Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Window of Opportunity

J is going to be thirteen soon. This summer I have been trying to carve out what bits of time I can from my crazy workdays to hang out with her. We don't do anything spectacularly fun though one afternoon I took her jetskiing in the ocean when the tide was high. She said it was the most fun hour she had in a long time. We have been to museums, libraries, gardens and bookstores on other days. There were long silences and a lot of conversations that flowed almost without effort. 

There were days I could not fully extract myself from work and happier times when I could. J has learned to work with my limited resources and still enjoy herself. During this time I have learned she is not a baby anymore no matter how much I want to believe that. I have told her many times this summer that her life is truly elsewhere - and dreaming big is the best way to learn where her bliss lies. 

You try feeling different dreams for size and comfort - think about what feels the most natural. And in time you know who you are really meant to be. I am learning I may be able to prepare her for the world in material sense - she would be a productive member of society thanks to those efforts. But making sure J will be a happy person is possibly beyond my abilities. I try to distill my life experience so she can be spared the pain of mistakes I made, forgetting that most of what was right or wrong for me does not apply for her. Watching my baby grow up is about letting her fail and hurt and learn in her own way. Being a parent I am learning only gets harder as the window of opportunity to get it right continues to shrink.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Kids View

J had some interesting views on this latest attempt to police kids time online. She said it is a dumb idea - this was parents outsourcing parenting to a piece of technology. A good parent must do their own job. She also said that it would make kids dependent and unable to self regulate - which is not a set up for success in their adult life. At some point they will need to hold down a job and make their own decisions. Something like this would seem like a good idea in the short term for both parent and child but long term would not serve the kid well at all. 

Instead she recommends a blanket ban on unsupervised time online for kids too young or too irresponsible to know better. For the rest, J would have the kid self regulate with lite supervision but not policing by the parents - which is the rules of engagement in our home.

Full disclosure, it is not easy to get J to do her chores every day but on an average more things get done than not. With time, some good habits do get formed. And every so often I have a full on meltdown over the mess in her room. In return for her "valuable" opinion on this piece of technology she asked for her bed time to be extended by thirty minutes. The fact that I acquiesced to such demand may make me a fairly questionable parent.