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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Parenting Is Hard, Yo!

Eldest has a project due Friday. She's supposed to make a poster about the state of Wyoming and make it sound interesting. And parents are not allowed to do the project for the kids.

Ohmigosh it's killing me! I helped her do research, had her type up what she found in her own words, and then told her I would spell check for her since typing is hard. Some of her sentences are... "Wyoming has rocks and stuff. That makes it fun." And I'm biting my knuckled reminding myself that this is her project, not mine.

Still, like a good parent and editor, I sent her back to unpack the sentence a little.

Like a proper eleven-year-old she broke down in tears and said it was all so hard.

So we compromised. I let her do a little more research, glue some pictures on, and then take a break. Which isn't so much compromise as it is putting off the inevitable. And you know I keep looking at that poster going, "I could do that. Give me an hour and some glue."

There's a huge temptation as a perfectionist parent to sweep in and take over a project. You know how to do it, you know how to do it right, and it would be so easy to just get it done with the minimum fuss and hassle. Which is the completely WRONG answer.

I learned how to do posters by doing a million posters on a million stupid project start with steel production in the midwest when I was in 3rd grade. Mrs. Swinkonis marched us down to the library every day for a week and made us work in groups as we used dusty reference tomes from the library. Then, once she was sure we knew how to do research, we were given one word and two weeks to write a three page report on the subject. I had "Bioluminescence" and fell in love with glowing mushrooms at an ancient library with a replica of Snoopy's dog house in the kid's section.

What grade did I get? Knowing my academic history I can safely say it was a passing grade, but that's all I remember. The big secret from grade school is: Grades Don't Matter. What matters is that I learned how to do research and write a report. Two very useful skills no matter what you do with your life.

And letting my kid learn how to do this feels like I'm letting her reinvent the wheel!

It's so hard to sit back and let kids be kids. To let them fall down, make mistakes, and learn their own lessons. It's so tempting to step in and do all the work because you know you can do it with ease. This parenting thing is hard!

I thought the hard part would be watching them scrape their knees or crying when a goldfish died. No one said I'd have panic attacks every time my kid stressed out over homework. No one warned me that I'd cringe every time she has a social function where I can't be there to defend my child. No one told me it would be this hard!

Parenting is hard, yo!

Not just making the right choices every day or keeping your cool when the children are literally trying to destroy the house around you, but letting go. Letting children been individuals with different tastes and opinions than your own. That's hard. It's important, but it's hard.


  1. The hardest thing to do as a parent is to step back and let things progress when you know your child will be emotionally hurt as a result. If you think it has been bad so far, the teen years are going to show you otherwise.

    The good news is that you and your children will survive it.

  2. It is hard to let them sink or swim, but sometimes it's the best thing you can do. Just ask my teen son who thought he could pass an extra summer class by doing a half-assed job on the projects because learning has always been so easy for him and video games were more important no matter how many times I reminded him of the work he had to do. He failed. He's significantly more responsible with getting things done to the level they should be now.