Most days I am charmed to death and encouraged by the young. But far too often I worry about what is going to become of too many of the ‘lucky’.
If your child is 8 they should not spend most of their conversation talking about which private club(s)/ schools they belong/go to, as though this is their only currency and source of worth to trade with their pals, or how boring something is, how annoying it is that they have to do this and that (the word annoying should be abolished as it often informs an ennui that comes as close as anything to elitism, kills joy, nullifies duty), that they only shop at Pusateris and what a tragedy as it is presently closed, as though they can’t find food and might go hungry. Starve to death even.
If they are 6, they do not need weekly manicures, highlights, several fine dining experiences, and 2L of Gatorade every time they walk to the corner to replace precious electrolytes. They need to run outside and build forts and compassion. They need to want that new bike badly. They need to put down their phones, not someone at school they find ‘lame’ or a little quirky or different. The world is made magic by these. The world may even be run by these. Their clothes should mismatch, like their friends and their experiences, opposite to a perfect branding experience.
They need to watch you being human, being a friend, driving without waving your tall finger in the air at anyone who dares cross you, and standing up for something worthwhile you believe in (remember worthwhile? It’s that thing that matters, truly matters, not that thing you fuss with because you don’t have any real problems, or you are bored or starved for drama, so you have to invent some ridiculous ones) to see you helping someone you don’t know, loving yourself and your imperfections, being a good person and well, quite frankly, not an asshole.
I love all children, even the ones you are wrecking. It is you I have a distaste for. They can’t help it. You can.
Get them to stop interrupting. What’s up with that? I tell my students if your tail is on fire, highjack my sentence, wave a flag, jump up and down, otherwise be quiet until I am done. And I will do the same, even if I am super excited. Why is this happening all the time? Because you tell them they are genius and golden and you forgot manners, because you misplaced your own. Don’t encourage talking back and moaning as though life itself is a chore, not the privilege that we know it is. Stop insisting that shit behaviour is a normal stage.
If they tell you they are bored, tell them it is a privilege. If they say they are tired, tell them it is a good thing they don’t have to carry all their belongings on their back, with bare feet in the snow. It’s the best brat bedtime story I know.
They need to see you let the experts (teachers, doctors, the person who cleans your carpet, fixes your car, does your taxes) be experts, not harass them. It is not a show of love to stalk their teachers, when they are doing their job well, to point out minuscule moments that were ‘off’ or alive in less than sterile perfection. It is not a show of love to enter each situation asking for special treatment, as though your offspring are celebs, or royalty or extra needy.
It has been my experience that off strategy is often where all the good learning comes in. Honestly, you can’t pay for better. I know this well. My life has often been off strategy.
It is a show of love to demonstrate to them through your actions, or in many cases, lack of action, that they are enough, that they will figure it out, that they have what it takes and that you love them no matter what they bring you. But if they bring you something less than their best (this is different from perfection), that you don’t blame the population, global warming, gluten, red dye #6 or someone else but honour them with consequence and an owning because they are worth it.
Life is precious but please don’t treat junior like they are.
You aren’t doing them any favours.