Parenting imperfect people

Every once in a very great while I receive the kind of mail that says something along the lines of “Your family is so perfect.” First I read through all the way to the end to see what kind of scam the sender is peddling.

If you claim to regularly read my column and what you take away is that I believe or portray my family as “perfect,” then I think you really don’t read my column AT ALL. Why must you lie to me?

Parenting

The one area that causes me the most concern is, if I have ever given the impression that BoyWonder and GirlWonder, pride of our lives and joy of our hearts, are “perfect.” We have said often that our kids are not perfect. If they were they wouldn’t be ours.

I believe I have written more than once of less than stellar moments. If not, just wait, I’m sure there will be more. I believe with my whole heart to behave as if and believe your children can do no wrong is inviting the kind of karmic smack down as seen on America’s Most Wanted.

I don’t believe for a minute Mr. Wonderful and I won’t have some negative issues with our children. I just want everyone to be as shocked as we are when it happens, not nod sagely and say “anyone could see that coming.”

I think if we are lucky, parenting is a plethora of highs of beaming pride over the accomplishments of, and compliments to, your children tempered with wondering how exactly it is that they were with you the whole time and yet were somehow raised by wolves.

I am imperfect and human and messy. I preach “do as I say, not as I do,” laugh at inappropriate times and struggle to keep my less than charitable thoughts inside my head and off my tongue. Both of my children have inherited my biting sarcasm. I’m sorry — but then again, not.

I am a work in progress and verifiably far from perfect. I am currently feeling like I have mastered the universe because I have got my kids to school on time — and by “on time” I mean early enough they don’t have to tuck and roll out of the car like paratroopers and sprint for the doors before the school goes into lockdown. To put it bluntly, I am sorely lacking. Still, I try.

Baby

I baby-proofed all the cabinets and, 15 years later, they are all broken. Who am I kidding, 15 minutes later they were all broken. Now I try to teen-proof our lives. To that end I am not the “never my child!” parent. I am a trust-and-verify kind of parent. I don’t believe in “forbidding” friendships but I will micro-manage relationships until I know — or can at least pretend to hazard a guess — as to intent.

They know I have their back in big things, but that most things are small things. This does not mean, however, I belittle their feelings. I think one of the gravest disservices one can do for a child is to believe — and behave — as if their problems are “small ones.” When you are living — feeling — it, it is big to you. I try to remember that always. Children are not our equals, but they do deserve respect.

I also I believe in homework and hard work and believe coaches and teachers really are “the boss of you.” If any child of mine tries to convince me the coach or teacher “hates them,” I am proud to bend low, stare empathetically into their eyes and pass on the assurance my own mother gave me “honey that person has better things to worry about than wasting time hating you. You aren’t that important to them. Now do your homework.”

I am pretty darned proud of our kids. Better yet, I still like them fully 99 percent of the time and love them to the moon and back three times (and all the way to Salem) always (knock wood!)

Not perfect

This is not to be mistaken with “my kids can do no wrong.” I think my kids can do wrong all the time. They are my kids after all, and they are kids which right there means they are going to do simply ridiculous things. If I have written otherwise, I apologize.

Children make mistakes and are imperfect. Often. There is a reason children are not allowed to get their own apartments and vote (except maybe in some key states during an election year).

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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