What I hope my kid retains
This is a small slice.
- Healthy couples do not argue
- If you do argue, something is wrong with your relationship
1. Unending Curiosity
Since the dawn of time, younglings have asked their elders "Why?" or so I imagine it to be. He's always been curious, and continues to be well into his teen years. I want him to continue exploring, asking, and researching. Curiosity leads to exciting places.
There are a myriad of moments as your child grows that are firsts, and there are those that are lasts. The last time they crawl into your bed, the last time they ask you to read a bedtime story, the last time you can pick them up and carry them, the last time they grab your hand while walking to school. If you're lucky, your kid may never grow out of some of these habits. Otherwise, you feel them coming and you know you have to enjoy them as you have them. I am particularly fortunate that my teen will still cuddle up to me on the couch some evenings. It may be every few weeks or every few months - but that affectionate soul is still there. He loves to give hugs and also doesn't hesitate to set his boundaries. My wish for him is to continue to be affectionate as he desires.
3. The art of disagreement
My partner and I made a decision early on that we would not shelter our child from disagreements (subject depending). Over the years, I had heard from friends and others that their parents would never argue in front of them, which sets this unrealistic expectation that:
He has seen us disagree with each other and with others. He has also witnessed the resolution of these disagreements. He has developed skills to articulate his opinions and back up his claims, and also actively listen to the other side. And he is human, just like the rest of us - when disagreements go south he experiences and learns from the consequences.
4. Choose your own adventure
Since he could pretty much speak, my son has been obsessed with football. He loves to watch it, play Madden, discuss stats, play fantasy, play with his friends, trash talk football, research football. Football football football. When he was younger we made the somewhat controversial decision to not allow him to play football at that time. I'm quite fond of his brain. Now I'm not stupid, I know any activity has their inherent risks. He could break a leg while hiking or get a concussion playing volleyball. Fast forward some years and this past spring he came to us and presented a compelling case as to why he should now be allowed to play. Not only did he have a plan in place for how to train, he was willing to put in additional effort in other areas as well. He's spent the entire summer training with the high school football team and various coaches, and while it's not the path I'd choose for him, it's his path he's chosen for himself.
My point is, I want him to continue going down the path that's for him, and not conform to what anybody else wants for him. Funny as I write this all out, but ya know, I'm his parent.
5. Everybody fucks up
You can't be perfect 100% of the time and it's nonsense to hold yourself to that level. That's not to say you should not strive to improve, you should! But humans fuck shit up. Give yourself some grace when you fuck up, dust off, assess, and grow. And don't forget to allow the same grace with others, but not to the point where it's unhealthy.
6. The basics
Cooking basics, cleaning basics, research basics, the basics that will allow him to go off and be a functional adult human out in this world without having to rely on others to do these things. This includes finances! Kid loves his index funds.
7. Open Communication
One of the things I cherish most in this world are the conversations I have with my son. He's inquisitive, thoughtful, and also at the age where I don't know shit. Yet, he still spends time with me each day and deep down I know he appreciates these moments just as much as I do. He's not afraid to come to me and express emotion or question something he doesn't understand. His ability to show vulnerability, especially as a teenager, is something I don't take for granted. I have no idea what the future may hold, but I hope these conversations continue for life - or at the very least he holds them tight as well.
8. Time is precious
Like many parents, I sometimes fall into the trap (good or bad) of wanting to provide for my son things and experiences I did not have myself growing up. Or, maybe you had the best childhood and you want to recreate that. Either way, one thing I lacked as a child was time - quality time. Another story for another time.
As for my son, I know that I was unwilling to sacrifice quality time with him because of work or other commitments. I am well aware that we don't all have this luxury, but I worked my ass off and changed jobs/careers to make it happen.
But time isn't just about me/my partner - it's about maximizing time with others he loves and cares for: his grandparents, cousins, uncle, friends - and savoring those moments.
9. Critical Thinking
He's a Gen Z kid and loves all things you can consume via quick 10-30 second videos. If it's something really interesting, you might have his attention a bit longer. I absolutely love (no I don't) getting the look and eye roll when I remind him not to believe everything he reads, hears, sees, on the internet or from friends/others. My newest favorite: "Only girls like leg day"
Ok, I admit I love leg day. And I'm a girl...scratch that, woman. But uh, what the fuck, kid?
Do you have any sort of data to back up this statement? Where did you hear this? Did you make it up or did your group of teenage boy workout crew come up with this idea to make yourselves feel better because you're struggling with leg day?
Moral of the story - use evidence (good evidence, I know, it seems harder to find these days but it's out there) and think about what you're simply repeating, kids!
It's a work in progress.
10. "We rise by lifting others"
Show respect and care, stand up for your friends, don't take advantage of others, help your community, donate your time or other resources, learn from others, allow others to learn from you. Show kindness and love. Remember that each person is just that, a person. They are not caricatures. And take care of this Earth.