Every year I stuff hundreds of Easter Eggs (this year I had help from Christy Miller, Julie Schneider and Mr. Logan Reichert –thanks guys).
And every year, I fret about having to pick up all the Easter Eggs myself because no one showed up.
And every year, few people put their names on the sign up sheet, but they show up anyway and the hunt is a smashing success.
Well, this year was just like every other year, much to my relief.
We had enough eggs, people brought all kinds of delicious food for the pot luck, all the eggs were found in under 10 minutes,
AND, a few families were late and missed out on collecting any eggs.:( Still, they had a good time playing with the other kids.
Watching the kids play with each other after hunting down all the eggs is my favorite part of the day; parents get to socialize under the shelter and the kids get to be kids, with unstructured, unsupervised fun time.
I have to share bits of two conversations I had under the shelter.
First, one grandad said to me that he could tell I run SMAA for more than just to make a living, that he could see I really care for my students.
I’ll thank him again here for the kinds words.
I told him that I would not have my school if I didn’t feel that way, and that I couldn’t imagine it being any different.
A little later, one mom approached me and told me she overheard this conversation.
She said she wanted to thank me for providing parents a place where they are not made to feel like bad parents for not being perfect.
I have to share this because, WOW!
What she was telling me is that she has experienced the pressure and the judgment that teachers, coaches, and other parents put on parents.
This might very well be the most complex, challenging time to be a parent in history. The rise of technology — the coming of the internet, the ubiquity of mobile devices, the invasion of social media — has placed a powerful burden on parents like none have experienced before.
Children nowadays are the first generation to develop in the internet age, not knowing a world without online access, but people forget that their parents are also the first generation to face the daunting task fo raising their children in a globally connected environment where kids have access to the worst of human nature (and to the best, to be fair).
Add to this, the need for both parents to work one or more jobs just to make ends meet.
And, the loss of children’s free time away from their parents, where if a child is ever seen out alone, someone calls the police. All the other kids are at structured sports anyway, so no one is around for a pick-up game of ball.
Finally, mix in a culture of hyper-competitiveness and the fact that there are just so many MORE people to be compared with ( on and off-line) and parenting comes off as a no-win proposition few would choose if you told them all of this beforehand.
Perhaps I sympathize because I am the parent of two and see for myself how adults judge each other.
Whatever the reason, in my mind, COMPASSION is the only sensible way to treat other parents. There’s far too much negative in the world, I don’t need to add to it.
Here’s what I told her (as a way to combat the parental judgment ):
When it comes to being a good parent, there are only a few things you really need to make sure don’t happen to your child (and a few that need to happen).
(1) Shield your child from MAJOR childhood trauma — physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse.
(2) Prevent your child from being exposed to addiction — drugs, alcohol, etc.
These two categories of negative childhood experiences have profound, lasting effects well into adulthood.
On the positive sign, here are two things to definitely do:
(1) Give them Love. Express it, Say it, Do it, Write it, Don’t let it go unsaid. Don’t assume they know. Don’t think that because you did it once, you don’t have to keep expressing it. Love may not be ALL you need, but it goes pretty dang far.
(2) Give them Chores. Yup, give them responsibilities, to contribute, to learn how to take care of themselves and others, to see that they don’t get paid for every little thing they do, that they are not entitled, but rather they are here for others. A good work ethic is tough to beat.
Those are the BIG THEMES of parenting, the major things to focus on that will make for successful adults. The rest is just stuff, it’s preference or uninformed commentary on a sliver of your family’s life.
Does is matter if your child learned to walk, read, talk, write, multiply, kick a ball, a bit later than other kids?
Dos it matter if you’re late from driving all over town vainly trying to get your child to the next function on time?
Does it matter if you or your child doesn’t have some critical supply for school that day?
Does it matter if you cannot make every play, practice, game, ceremony?
Does it matter that you help raise a good, moral human being who can take care of themselves, work hard, and who is helpful to others?
Children are “works in progress”, judging their parents is like you looking over my shoulder and second-guessing every line I write, before I’ve finished writing and editing — it’s premature and ultimately, unhelpful.
If you’re doing what you can, I support you.
Here’s to you, parents.