Today was a great day. Being in school I don't get all that many really great days, so today was exciting. We went to see my very favorite musician in concert and I got to hear him sing all my favorite songs. It was delicious. By "we" I mean the spouse and me. We only drove an hour and a half one way to get there, but it was worth it. We've gone on Valentine's Day concert trip extravaganzas to more exotic places, like Iowa in a blizzard.
Much of the reason I love this musician so much is his lyrics. Today it dawned on me that I love these lyrics because they hit my philosophy on life on the nose. It's about now, and making the most of now, and loving those in our lives who need it, and telling them so. Life is about dreams and being surprised at where you end up and enjoying it anyway. Life is about making mistakes and learning from yours and others'.
Now that I'm a parent, and I've had a little practice at it, I've developed a parenting philosophy too (in conjunction with the spouse, of course). It is as follows, stolen from Diane Duane's excellent book "So You Want to Be A Wizard":
In Life's name and for Life's sake, I say that I will use the Art for
nothing but the service of that Life. I will guard growth and ease
pain. I will fight to preserve what grows and lives well in its own way;
and I will change no object or creature unless its growth and life, or
that of the system of which it is part, are threatened. To these ends,
in the practice of my Art, I will put aside fear for courage, and death
for life, when it is right to do so -- till the Universe's end.
Parenting is certainly an art, not a science. No two children are the same, and no two pieces of art are the same either. So the long and short of it is that I'm not in charge of growing children, or raising them. I'm in charge of giving the kid the opportunities to grow for herself and tell her when she's growing in the wrong direction (whiny tone, lookin at you). If she's not destroying anything or hurting herself or others, then whatever. I'll let her play and climb stuff and roll in the mud. Casual parenting, if you will. I'll drive her to karate lessons but I won't walk her into the class. It's her choice to be there, and if she chooses not to participate, so be it.
I read too many mommy blogs, hey like this one... oops... and so many moms seem so deeply committed to being so in control of their kids' learning. It just baffles me. We are not here to confine and define the world for our children. We are here to remind them to put on a coat in the winter before they go play outside, and what to do if a stranger grabs them, and to drink orange juice if they have a cold. We're here to hug them after they fall down and then remind them to dust themselves off and get back to playing, not to put on so many protective pads that they never skin their knees. There is no way I can keep an eye on my kid every moment every day that she is little, and I refuse to do it. She needs to be as self-sufficient as possible for someone her age because some day she will grow up and I want her to know how to help herself. If she doesn't start now in the small ways she can, she will never learn.
So I let her go. I let her use scissors without watching her every move. I make her ask nicely before she gets a cookie. I send her out to play in the yard alone for hours, after I put sunscreen on her (still too little to do that alone). Yes, someday something awful might happen. Unless she knows how to handle little disappointments and trials, she will be totally lost if it does. Something awful might happen when I'm inches away. I trust that life is mostly good, that we should prepare for the worst but assume it will never come to pass and live life without fearing the worst. I have seen the worst life has to offer, and it doesn't happen to everyone or even most people, thank Heaven. The worst is the exception, not the rule, so let's all have some fun.