Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

On the fly parenting

LENTEN REFLECTION #11

95% of parenting happens on the fly. At the first squeal of our sweet babies, we begin sculpting our parenting styles.

Do we breastfeed? In public? Supplement with formula? Soy? Rice? Buy gender-neutral toys? Dolls? Barbies for boys? Co-sleep? Let them cry? Baby Bjorn? Sling? Fanny pack? (It’s been a while).

The number of decisions we are faced with is stifling, but somehow we make them and move on to the next. Lord knows we don’t have a choice.

As soon as you pack up the crib and post a review about what a bad idea the Diaper Genie was, you’re at the DMV praying your child fails the permit test.

They age, our necks age and we start making rules. Or in my case making UP rules (some).

Rule structuring can be based on instilling values and traditions we grew up with, going rogue, or finding a happy medium. We are going for hybrid “Prius parenting” (I made that up too). Our goal is to keep family and religion at the center with real-world 2019 stuff (controlled social media, etc.) orbiting. All laced with pop-up lessons on sarcasm to keep things interesting.

Each day I find myself making up new rules (shhh) and I often wonder if  know my parents did the same. Did anyone else’s parents say,

  • no singing at the dinner table
  • no dating until you’re 16 AND a junior in high school (definite last minute decision for my sister with a summer birthday)
  • we take turns opening Christmas presents ONE. AT. A. TIME.
  • do not use a gift until you’ve sent a thank you note

My favorite was a combo never EVER look behind you OR point in church. (Not sure what would happen, but I didn’t want to find out).

They were all good rules, don’t get me wrong. I just know they happened on the fly. I can picture mayhem one Christmas morning when my sisters and I woke up, saw our presents and starting opening all at once. There wasn’t much around the tree so my parents did the smartest thing, open one at a time. It lengthened our morning fun and helped us appreciate the power of ‘good things come to those who wait’. Boy was it hard.

My husband and I agree on most rules. Sometimes I make them in a panicked frenzy like, “No TV until you’re nine.” Why nine? Who knows? My daughter came home from Kindergarten one day talking about a Little Mermaid she saw on TV at school. From my reaction, you’d have thought the teacher had shown Silence of the Lambs. I was more than a little annoyed. Luckily I have a twin-engine helicopter I use for parenting and I fired up the rotors. It didn’t happen again until 1st grade. Grrrr…

This brings me to my one on the fly rule which has served everyone well (so far). It happened when crafting my daughter’s middle school schedule in 5th grade.

Me: “What instrument would you like to play?”

Cora: “None, thank you.”

Me: “This year you can just try an instrument and see what you think because…”

HERE IT COMES – ON THE FLY RULE MAKING – WAIT FOR IT

“You will ALL play an instrument in middle school.” 

Cora is still playing cello five years later. Our boys play saxophone and trumpet. It worked.

Music is part of what makes our lives whole and when you’re a teenager trying to carve out who you are, being able to strum a chord, play an arpeggio, or be the cello in a quartet is priceless. I love that our kids can play mezzo forte, understand a fermata, count 1/16th notes, know how to play Dvorak and Normandy Beach and talk about music, together. Their instruments may need dusting, but they sure play well.

Who knows, perhaps the morals and quick thinking rules we impose on our children will someday bring the harmony our world so desperately needs.

Spiritual Workout Combo: Run or walk and say a rosary at the same time.

Modification: Walk, get fresh air and open your thoughts to God. Just chat.

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