i’ve been a parent for a little more than five years. the fact that my son and i are both still breathing, eating and conversing let’s me know that i may, MAY, be slightly successful at it. but don’t hold me to it…. just yet. everyday my son absorbs and learns something new. and so do i.
sometimes teaching a “concept” is not as easy as it seems. for instance: learning about his physical self was something he had to experience on his own. i could (and did) warn him a hundred times over that he could bump his head while passing the kitchen table. but it didn’t matter until he actually bumped his head. he looked at the table and then looked at me with a certifiable look of “why? why didn’t you tell me it would hurt?” this was more prevalent and far more serious when he ran into the arm of the recliner and mashed his little man business. he was horrified, upset, hurt and suddenly aware. you get my drift? no amount of conversation was going to bring to light what he was feeling. he had to experience it in order to know that he never wanted to experience it again.
it is almost impossible to teach something without simultaneously learning. most times it’s just a shortcut to the end result or maybe cutting out something unnecessary. yes, parenting is a torturous lesson in teaching lessons. all the while we must maintain simultaneous levels of care, concern, fairness, equality, just, discipline, fun, guidance, respect, admiration, and sprinkle it all with a little friendship. just a little now, we don’t want them getting the wrong idea.
yesterday we went to Balboa Beach. a classic beach town with a very seventies nostalgic feel. we went to a vintage candy store specializing in salt water taffy and items that are not stocked at the local liquor store. we walked and talked and oogled the standard beach related fare. we saw some crabs, some barnacles and too many birds. we found a tall ropey-climby thing:
my son is five, so his world revolves around him. good thing there was that strategically placed arcade. my aunt got some tokens and he played a few games. he was mostly interested in riding a fake motorcycle. it took a few minutes but i was finally able to convince him to play skeeball. you remember skeeball don’t you?
after a round or two of good ole skeeball, my son bounced about on silly little token wasters. those store front rides that barely move, a game or two with buttons that didn’t really work… but, hey, what’s that in the corner? is that an air hockey game???? well sweet potato pie from the sky!! cut off my legs and call me shorty…. WHO WANTS TO PLAY? my son accepted the challenge… poor little human.
now. we, obviously had to get more tokens. and when the plastic puck was ejected and the soft blanket of air was on…. I lost all of my parenting skills. all of them. i was not interested in teaching fairness, sportsmanship or rules. i wanted to whoop some five year old ass and walk away with an I-WON-WITH-ALL-FIVE-TO-YOUR-ABSOLUTELY-NO-SCORE victory. i really did. and with the first few volleys of the puck, my PARENTING senses came back and i knew that it was my job to do the exact opposite of that. but i’ll be truthful, it was difficult.
you might think that i’m exaggerating, but i’m not. NOT. i spent years at the local skating rink playing air hockey, frogger, and 1942. i would consider myself an air hockey semi-pro. true story. so, you understand how difficult it was for me to hit softly, ignore his pulling the puck back to”try again” and the worst of the worst… to leave my goal wide open????? it hurt. it was painful. i actually had to look away to LET him score because if my eyes were to see the puck hurling toward the goal my arms and hands would instinctively smack the holy bajeezus out of that plastic green puck and send it in reverse at five times the speed and fifteen times the velocity and watch it crash into the back of the goal faster than my son could focus.. but ARGH! i was not allowed to and i DID NOT commit this travesty against childhood. but dammitalltohell if it wasn’t hard!!!
here’s the end result. he won. he smiled. we all cheered for him. shortly thereafter we left and i can’t seem to shake the fact that i HAD to LET him win. isn’t that just awful? I can tell you this… he better practice because when he’s old enough to THINK he can beat me, the tail whoopin’ will commence, and when it gets down to the wire, i’m gonna hafta dig real deep to possibly let him win. sad? I know. at least i’m truthful.
here’s something to smile about: