Strange but true: I trust my children. I raised them that way.
It all goes by so fast… way too fast. That is the hardest thing about being a parent.
When I’m asked where my children go to college, or plan to go to college I expect to get a good response, but half of the time I get negative responses. Now, they’re not going to Monster University or Ghoul Tech. The schools in question are part of the well respected University of California system. Yes, schools like UCLA, UCD, UCSB, UCSC, and of course UC Berkeley. Those schools aren’t scary. Those schools are FANTASTIC.
The comments I get are always about the school being a party school, or a drug school, or a crazy radical school, or a stoner school, or a hairy armpit school. You know, I’ve heard it all. The reality of the situation is that unless you send your child to some backwoods religious school that ALL colleges are party schools. That is what college students do.
When I became a parent I knew that it was a huge responsibility. I was responsible for not only having a child but for raising a child who would one day be an adult and go out into the world without me. I didn’t let crap just happen by chance. I parented with deliberation.
That doesn’t mean I kept my kids under my thumb. I didn’t do that at all. I let them freely explore, create and THINK. At an early age they “got the big picture” on the world. And I explored with them, as their guide through the jungle of childhood.
From the beginning they were looking at books (Clara’s third word was book, after baby and kitty), learning how to navigate and use the Internet, learning to explore nature, questioning the world outside of their own family, and discussing ideas. All questions were answered. All opinions were respected and discussed.
My husband Teddy and I also discussed hard lessons with them like the importance of one’s reputation, drugs, sex, relationships, friendships, responsibilities as a citizen, and the consequences of actions. Reputation was a huge issue, and it wasn’t an easy one but we dealt with it.
Their father and I told them cautionary tales of our own youth and of others we knew. As a parent you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable talking to your child about anything. You’re the parent. Your children WANT to learn from you.
So when someone questions my choices, or the choices of my children, I don’t give them the stink eye and tell them we’re Vampires. I don’t tell anyone that we’re Vampires for obvious reasons.
There is enough negativity in the world without imparting it upon our youth. I’ve made a list of a few of the worst things one can say to a young person.
- You can’t make any money doing that.
- It is really hard.
- Everyone with that major is unemployed.
- Everyone at that school is on drugs.
- You’re not smart enough to do that.
- Be happy with the way things are.
- Why can’t you be like ______? (fill in the blank)
- People in our family don’t do that.
- The chances of that working out are a zillion to one.
- You’ll fail.
I’ve come to the frightening point where I realize that my children are almost grown. For the most part they are grown. One will be twenty in a few weeks. The other is almost seventeen. As I write that I can almost feel my heart beating fast (but, you know, I’m a Vampire so that is a relative term, but still…)
While I doubt myself every single day, I never doubt my children. Even if I’ve failed at everything else, I know I haven’t failed my children, or failed at being a mother.
Even when I feel as if I’ve failed myself I look at the years and years of amazing and interesting things I’ve done, and my amazing and interesting friends. Yes, one can measure success by those we surround ourselves with. Each and every single one of those amazing things, good or bad, have become lessons for my children. In turn, those things also become lessons for me.
As I write there is a small puppy, all of eleven weeks old, curled up on my feet. Her little furry warm face is resting on my bare foot. She won’t be the dog my children grew up with. That dog, Jasmine, would sit with the children in their car seats, and sing (as sled dogs of unknown parentage do) in the car when I’d pick the kids up from school. She was always there for them until last year when she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Now, as my kids become adults, there is a new pup, who won’t grow up with children. And in a year, tiny Alice will be a 60-70 pound dog, who will look like a beautiful dark hound from some paranormal romance novel. Yes, the paranormal romance novel would be my life some years back, but now I’m writing a parenting blog. It all goes by so fast – a fleeting moment.
So enough about me, and back to kids.
You only have so long with them. Take time with your children – real time. Good time. Or that time will be gone before you know it.
I know life happens. Parents DO have lives outside of their kids. They have jobs. They have relationships. They have tragedies and loss. Your own dreams and hopes sometimes die. And all of this intertwines with being a parent.
But kids aren’t stupid unless you raise them to be that way. They know when something isn’t right. They’re sensitive. They’re smarter than you give them credit for. They may not know everything but that doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about everything and trying to figure it all out.
So when they’re on the brink of adulthood and someone tries to squish their dreams be there for them. Because it is THEIR dream. It should be your dream to make their dream happen. I’m not talking fairy tale crap, but real dreams. Don’t tell your kid that biochemistry is too hard of a major, or that history is a stupid major, or that artists starve. Let them try, because if they have the passion they’ll find their way. Let your child surprise you with his/her success. Let them learn by their failures and be there for them. Because it is now their time and that window is so small, so fleeting, so precious.
My children are smart and happy about who they are. Sure they aren’t perfect, but they’re mine and I’m proud of them.
So if you get anything from this post/blog it should be to talk with your kids, listen to them, discuss with them, share with them, trust them, and love them. Always.
Savor your time with your children. It is your time and their time – something precious, rare, and to be treasured. It is a gift you can’t afford to squander.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman