I’ve seen the article “Quit Doing These 8 Things For Your Teen This Year If You Want To Raise An Adult” zipping around FB and I like it. While “harassing your kid to be on time” wasn’t on the list it’s none-the-less one I feel caught doing most mornings. Can’t everyone see the time slipping by during yet another leisurely breakfast? How do they think they can make lunch, get dressed, pack their bags and get out the door in ten minutes when it’s never been done before? Most mornings I’m a buzzing time bomb, calling out “It’s 7:31. Now it’s 7:43!” No more. I’m adopting the mantra that learning to be late is a good thing. If you don’t like the consequences then change your behaviours.
My parental safety net default was put to the test this past morning. My daughter’s bus leaves at 8:03. As far back as 7:35 I could see things were going to go south. Come 7:55 I was sure of it. By 8:04 it was confirmed. I watched passively as the temperature rose and the tornado grew. When the bus whizzed past and the backpack fell to the floor, open, amidst a dizzying twirling teen I waited patiently for the realization to hit, options to be considered. I was available to fill in as the emergency taxi this time but I’m adjusting my routine to be around less during departure time. It’s not that I want to see my daughter stressed out in the morning. It’s more about wanting her to learn the consequences of messing up. Taking responsibility for ourselves is a lifelong pursuit and far better it be over a missed bus then something that has real effect later on in life.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for our kids is to stand back and watch. We’ll see how things go for the rest of the week…
Raise your hand if you’re exhausted from shuttling your kids to and from school, playdates, after school activities, sports events…. the list never ends. I recently created a spreadsheet to share with a couple of other families in an effort to share the load in an attempt to alleviate that last minute anxious texting and calling. It’s sorta working…
Well, our friends in the auto industry are bringing us the future and it’s looking good. At the Consumer Electrics Show in Las Vegas Chrysler unveiled an electric, self-driving minivan that could completely eliminate the taxi dad and mom roles. Just imagine yourself grabbing another hot drink and picking up your book while the “Portal” whisks your kids to dance/ski/soccer/music/daycare/school… Ok, maybe it’s not quite like that but we taxi parents can dream, can’t we?
Our kids are away at camp and as any parent who has sent their kids to overnight camp knows, there is a ton of planning and a decent amount of stress associated with getting ready and delivering our children to their home away from home. This year we were lucky enough to stay with our dear friends in Ontario, at their lake access cottage. Their daughters attend the same camp as ours and all four girls had their bags packed, their backpacks set and their camp uniforms on. After getting dropped off at the dock it was but a short walk to the car and we’d whisk them away. Alas, a smooth getaway was not to be. Moments after seeing the kids walk across the dock we heard a “SPLASH!” I looked at my wife and we both knew who had fallen in.
Panic could have ensued. Shouting could have occurred. Tears could have been shed. Instead, my amazing daughter stated what had happened had happened and all that could be done was to clean up and move forward. I made a point of addressing both families and acknowledging that to a person, any other of us in my daughter’s position would have lost it. Maturity and confidence are qualities we as parents are constantly trying to build in our children. On a summer’s day, in a lake in Muskoka, we saw those qualities in action and despite the wet gear, that felt pretty good.
Dear Jerk in the blue Volkswagen with the red bumper and silver rear spoiler:
You may have thought that calling out to my son and his friend while they were riding their bikes, asking if they wanted candy from the safety of your car was a funny thing to do. You may have been trying to impress your two silent buddies in the back seat. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, that your intentions were only idiotic and not anything more salacious, but there is no place for that kind of idiocy in our community.
You have the freedom of four wheels to take you wherever you want to go. Do you remember being a kid, not that long ago judging from your description, being on two wheels? Do you remember what it was like to have the freedom to ride your bike through back alleys and over dirt trails? Do you remember that it was and continues to be one of the few times that we as a society give our kids the ability to travel wherever they want to go under their own steam? That’s something precious. The chance to strap on a helmet and wander streets or explore trails without someone breathing down our necks or questioning our decisions. For my son and his buddies it’s also a means to get back and forth to school each day. They feel great about it because it’s their time together, outside, to talk about whatever they want, to go at a speed their parents wouldn’t want to see and to dare one another to hit jumps their parents would tell them to avoid. They believe they’re making a difference to their planet by not having us drive them. They can see their fitness improving. The find value in the most simple of activities. Riding their bikes. Your question isn’t an innocent one. It takes on a life of its own within the schoolyard playground and you become a monster. The monster gains traction every time its story is passed along to other families and other school yards. Our streets lose their openness and joy and instead become ribbons of concrete distress and fear. Parents clamp down on time outside and kids wonder if a bogeyman with sweets is lurking in every bush or hiding behind every steering wheel.
You drove off and probably thought nothing more of it but others were left with the aftermath of your actions. How do I best explain to my 10 year old, at 11:00pm at night when he can’t sleep, that people are inherently good? That what he experienced today isn’t typical and that he shouldn’t be afraid to ride his bike again.
What you’re doing, with your “joking”, is stealing his freedom and making him question his place in his community. You’re making him afraid to do what he loves. You’re stoking fear in what it means to be a kid in an adult dominated world.
Is that really what you want? Are you really a monster?
You can argue that you were only having a little fun. That you didn’t mean it. But kids are trusting and that kind of humour isn’t understood. You know that. You were a kid once. So grow up. If you’re old enough to drive a car, respect the community that you’re travelling in. Respect the kids that live in it. Respect yourself. Stop saying stupid things and stop acting like such a jerk.
The parent of a boy – a boy just like you.
Last week I posted a sketch based on substitute teachers and while walking the dog this week I got to thinking that there was another drawing lurking in there, inspired by that sketch. I mucked around with some paint brushes in photoshop and came up with the image above. Sasquatch in a Sub – I think there’s something to explore there…
I found this in my sketchbook yesterday half finished. After re-reading it and checking it against the sketches before and after I figure I wrote this at the end of November. Life obviously got so busy I forgot to post it. The message is still relevant though, even if things are quite as manic at the moment. All I have to do is wait a few days and there’s a good chance I’ll be right back there…
It’s a rite of passage. Your first school dance. Do you remember yours? I do. Boys packed tight onto one side of our gym, girls on the other with a huge empty chasm in-between. Our math/gym teacher was spinning the records up on stage. It ran from 4:30-7:00 pm. I wasn’t at my daughters first dance but I got the next best thing – the chauffeur gig picking up her and three friends post dance to drive them home. Their dance was from 7:00-9:30pm so it was a late night, a school night no less. The chatter on the way home? Pure gold.