Parenting is not for the weak or faint of heart

Categorized as 02/07/11 Goshen News column

Boys will try anything.  They will jump down onto a trampoline from leafy heights where the air is thin.  They will scale tall, rickety ladders to reach the haymow.  Then they will help a three-year-old brother scale the same ladder, hauling his ridey toy with them.  When their mother finds them perched at the edge, she will hyperventilate, fighting off the impending darkness in order to make sure they get back down safely.  If you have a boy who wants to know if it’s possible to parachute from the barn roof, whether there are shoes with suction cups that would let you climb up the barn sides, and if anyone’s invented sneakers with jet propulsion, you know better.  Instead, you direct them to safer activities, such as coloring, and you avoid any talk of the Wright Brothers.  Abigail Van Buren of “Dear Abby” fame said, “If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.” “Amen!” shouts this mother who wears the title of Original Egyptian Slave Driver with pride.  Author Kevin Leman adds teaching children to contribute to the family by giving them tasks to do builds self-esteem.     The argument that we moved from a yard the size of a pot holder to a three-acre plot to enhance their self-esteem and develop their characters rings hollow with our tribe.  They probably won’t get this until they have their own little characters to train.  The day I see the grandkids out weeding the garden or mowing the yard, I’ll know I’ve been vindicated.  I’ll try hard not to say, “Told ya,” or do a happy dance right in front of them.  I’ll wait until I get home.  Comedian Phyllis Diller said, “Most children threaten at times to run away from home.  This is the only thing that keeps some parents going.”  She added, “I want my children to have all the things I couldn’t afford.  Then I want to move in with them.”  Hmm.  Wonder who’d be sweating then?  The legendary Erma Bombeck said this:  “When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen.  When they’re finished, I climb out.”  She also advised, “Never lend your car to someone to whom you have given birth.” Bill Cosby observed that, “Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home.”  That’s true.  You don’t see them coming back home in the animal kingdom.  But humans don’t eat their young, either, so I’d say it’s a wash.  Parenting, I think, is like a roller coaster.  It’s full of highs and lows and moments that make you want to throw up.  You’re certainly never bored.  As Mr. Schrock prays, though, “Dear Lord, just once I’d like to be bored…”

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