This week a student told me I must be the world’s greatest dad.
I laughed. “What makes you believe that?”
“Because you always seem to have a great answer for every question.”
Flattered, sure, but there’s a big difference at being good English teacher and being a parent. Teaching literature and writing is easy. Parenting is not.
I’ve come to suspect that all parents are frauds.
We tell our children not to lie but we lie. We tell them to always work hard but we tend to cut corners. We tell them not to complain but we love to complain.
Parenting is a “do as I say, don’t do as I do” business.
I know she knows adults truths. Like curse words. Like people can be heartlessly cruel. Like where babies come from.
For now, my sons are puppies. Play fetch in the yard, rub their tummies, feed them, and they’re wagging-their-tail happy.
Haley is more complicated than Hamlet– what a piece of work is a 10 year old girl!
Her face, the way her eye brows bend, the tightness of her lips, broadcast something is wrong yet when questioned–she firmly announces nothing is wrong.
For years the walls of her room were painted a bright preschool pink but recently we just painted them, by her request, a get-to-work office gray. We just bought her an adult bedroom set and she is currently sifting her colony of stuffed animals into two piles: wanted and unwanted.
She is growing up and I, despite popular opinion, don’t have an answer.
I know a child’s problems are opportunities for the parent, not to solve the problem (because that leads to other problems), but to work with the child to strengthen the parent-child relationship. To build love and trust between the parent and child. So when future problems do occur, the child comfortably, willingly turns to the parent for advice.
But knowing and doing are worlds apart.
And so before I can confidently claim the world’s greatest dad title, I need to learn how to do this parenting thing first.
PS– If you know a parent who will take comfort in knowing that, to some degree, we’re all frauds…feel free to share this post with them.
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