While many of my stories revolve around the more humorous aspects of parenting, you mustn’t forget that real parenting is hard. Personally, I believe the hardest part of being a parent is being a parent. That sounds stupid, but I know too many people who feel that it’s important to be their child’s friend. My job is not to be my child’s friend. My job is to be my child’s parent. My job is to teach them how to be adults and make good decisions in life.
Watching your children struggle to make decisions, both right and wrong, is nearly as difficult as tending to a sick child. It’s important for children practice make decisions now, when I can catch them if they fall. But, knowing what the right thing is and implementing the right thing are completely different. I have years of decision making experience, less than Jim but more than Gwen, but I know making decisions for my children doesn’t help them grow. Girl makes this whole process especially hard.
Honestly, Girl is a chicken. Once she does something, typically she excels at it. But, getting her to make the decision to try something new is an act of God. My wife and I have tried everything to get Girl to do things. Usually, it’s under threat. But, as Girl has gotten older, we’ve come to accept that she will have to do things in her own time. We decided that Girl has gotten to the point where we need to let Girl make decisions and understand the impact of that decision.
The latest decision making opportunity occurred this past week at the pool. We, along with several of Boy and Girl’s classmates, belong to a pool association. The pool is nice and has both a slide and diving board. But, the pool rules state that a person isn’t allowed to use either if you are wearing swim goggles. The problem is that girl doesn’t like to get water in her eyes, so she won’t swim without her goggles.
Ironically, the first time we went to the pool, before we knew about the goggle rule, she had jumped off the diving board several times. She loved it. Then, when she was told that she couldn’t wear her goggles, and she stopped jumping off the board.
On this particular day, there were three other classmates at the pool. They started playing but eventually, the group drifted over to the diving board. They were all going off the diving board. But Girl still didn’t want to go. As she watched the kids having fun, she turned to me and said, “I feel like a loser”
I looked at her, and quietly stated, “yep.” It’s was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I wasn’t going to lie to her. But, at the same time, it was killing me that she felt so bad. And no matter what, I felt it important that she make the decision to stay or go for herself.
Finally, she took off her goggles, climbed onto the diving board, and jumped into the water.
I couldn’t have been more proud of her.