Hi, y'all. I know it's been a while since I've checked in. Sorry about that but here's what I've been thinking on while I've been away.
I read all sorts of things, online and off, about raising kids, parenting quotes and advice, and all manner of things that promise to help you become the perfect parent (whatever that is).
So I've decided to weigh in on some of these items, for your entertainment and, possibly, benefit. Although, sometimes being entertaining and beneficial can come from the same article. OK, enough of that; here we go.
When you go into any activity it’s wise to do a little self-assessment, to see if you have any idea what you’re doing. I’ll give you an example: I once interviewed for a job for which I was completely unqualified. Period. Other than showing up and eating up hours towards a shift I had little experience in this particular field.
Obviously, I didn’t get the job. I wasn’t surprised about that, mind you. In fact, there was a little part of me that was glad that I didn’t, because I’d have been like the dog who’s chased cars his entire life and finally caught one. “Now I’ve got it… what do I do with it?!”
Now, there’s more to this story that will help me illustrate the much larger point. Fast forward about 3 months. I was working some hourly job (I honestly can’t remember what I was doing), and I happened to be reading the “help wanted” section in the local newspaper.
What did I see? Yep, you guessed it (Or maybe you didn’t, I don’t know). The same job was available to which I’d applied months earlier. I smiled to myself when I saw it because I knew something that was going to change how I talked with the person doing the hiring.
Because you know what? Back then I was stubborn enough to think that I could get that job, irrespective of the fact that not much had changed in the intervening 3 months. I realized that I didn’t have a clue about the duties of that job when I first applied. I just thought it’d be a cool job to have.
However, I spent a little time getting acquainted with that industry. I read a book or two, some magazine articles (this was in the late 90s and I didn’t have access to the internet with any regularity), and asked questions of the people in that field. Basically, I developed a tiny set of skills and knew a little bit about the skill set.
I walked into the interview a whole lot more confident than I was when I first applied. The interviewer, the same person I saw originally, recognized me and said, “So you’re back again. Why did you decide to come back?”
My response. “I’m here to help you fix your mistake.”
“Not hiring me in the first place. Let’s talk about that.”
Forty-five minutes later I left the interview feeling far more confident than when I left the first interview. I showed the interviewer that I cared enough to do some research. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get the job but I still felt more self-assured.
Why do you think that is? Well, for me it was because I’d done a self-assessment, saw that I was lacking, then did something about it for myself. See, I didn’t know I’d be re-applying for that position. I just wanted to gain some knowledge, some skills, if you will.
Oh, let me finish my story. About two days later I received a phone call, asking me if I’d be willing to travel to do some training for the new job the company was offering me. I smiled and said, “Sure. When do you need me to leave?”
I tell you this story to make this point. Just before your children were born, you were probably bombarded with well-intended people telling you what you don’t know, or going, “Oh, you just wait!”
Like I said, they mean well, but one of the unintended consequences of this is that you wind up questioning your ability to be a good parent. I’m not even talking about the next-level stuff like how you handle talking about puberty or politics or anything like that.
No, I’m talking about basic stuff, like whether or not you can change a diaper or keep your kid from falling into a pot of stew (I don’t really think anyone other than me worried about that, but maybe you did.)
Listen, let me be the one to assure you that you have the skills you need to keep a tiny human alive. Look, you’ve kept yourself from falling into stew pots up to this point, right? How hard can it be to keep a kid from doing it? Don’t flood my inbox with stories about how hard keeping track of kids are; I know, I’ve got 4. My wife and I are playing zone defense, at this point.
Believe it or not, parents, you have the skills you need to handle your duties as a parent. While you might feel ill-equipped, you still have the skills to research how to handle the things that made you feel ill-equipped in the first place.
Kids getting on your nerves? Use your skills to take a breath, calm down, tell them to calm down, and then walk into another room to shut your head in the door. Or “go use the potty,” that’s always a good “skill” to have.
The point is that I don’t want you to feel like an imbecile who has to be led through life, unable to figure out how to live. If you need to gain some knowledge, you have the skill set to do it. Who knows? The knowledge you gain to help you now might be used 3 months from now to help you get a job managing a bookstore cafe. Or maybe that’s just me.
Talk to y’all later.
PS- The quote in the title was from “Napoleon Dynamite.” But most of y’all knew that, didn't you?