Parenting Don’ts

Today, I took an easier pace on my walk and pushed myself harder on my push-ups.

Today, I sent a box to my brother in an attempt to be helpful from 1400 miles away.

Today, I finished book 51 of my summer reading challenge.

Today, I rode a horse for the first time since I was ten.

Today, I stood behind a woman in FedEx who taught me a little something about parenting.

I am not a parent, except in the special way pet owners are to their pets.  I used to work in a church nursery, which gave me a broad spectrum view of both parents and kids.  That was an excellent learning environment because it showed me just how unique each parent-child relationship is.  It also demonstrated how very difficult it is to be perceived as a good parent in public.

Let the kids run wild and you clearly aren’t teaching them discipline and respect.  Yell at them or (God forbid) spank them in public and you’re some kind of monster.  There’s always someone looking over your shoulder and judging you.

I do it, too.  A lot.  And whenever I observe parenting I disapprove of, I always say to myself, “I’ll never do that with my kids,” or something similar.  I also have grandiose plans for what I am going to raise my kids.

For instance, there were two little girls running amok in FedEx, a 3 and a 5-year-old, I think.  They were freaking adorable and they weren’t doing much but leaping out at each other between the aisles and squealing.  Their mom was talking on her phone the entire time she was in the store.  Not keeping an eye on her daughters, not giving her full attention to the clerk.  When she reeled in the girls when she got to the desk, she ended up juggling her phone and the papers she was shipping while the girls clung to her legs and got in the way.

I made faces at them and then started shadow boxing with Buddy, because that’s what I do when I’m bored.  At one point, the younger girl knocked her face against the counter and started crying.  First, the mom asked the older sister what happened.  Then, presumably because the girl didn’t appear to be hurt (no blood or anything), she had the older girl take her sister (still crying) to sit by the door.

Still on the phone, she finished with her transaction.  Still on the phone, she took her daughters out into the dark parking lot to her SUV.  Still on the phone, she drove away.  I told myself I would never be that attached to a phone call.

Then it occurred to me that I rarely use my phone to make calls, so phone calls were not a real threat to my parenting technique.

Don’t worry.  When I really think about it, I know that reality makes a mess of all high-minded parenting ambitions.  The best laid plans are easily mislaid by toddlers.

I will say this, though.  If your little girls are in the back of your vehicle, GET OFF YOUR GORAM PHONE.  You know what, even if you don’t have kids, maybe don’t block half of your vision and half of your brain for a conversation that really can wait.  You may not be chauffeuring a couple of rugrats around, but the person your carelessly run off the road might be.

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15PM000000112011 · 23:08

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