Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Where's My Bumper Sticker?

" Student of the Month at Blah Blah Elementary " used to make me roll my twenty something eyes...and when Hollywood actor parents were asked in interviews "What is your greatest accomplishment?" and they seriously said, "My children." I would get irritated to the point of hollering at the TV..."But they are not YOU!"
I would steam from the ears that these silly parents actually took all the credit for their kids accomplishments.
Yes, they had sex (as any animal can do), yes, they gave birth (which I hear is painful, but again, natural), and fed and clothed them as any decent human being would do...beyond that, I was sure as sugar and right as rain that those kids were their own accomplishments, responsible for themselves...not their parents shining glory.
It was downright annoying to see parents crowing about their kids. For Gods sake get a life and let your kids be who they are! I would think.

The funny thing is my parents pretty much did that. You would think, from my reaction, that I would have helicopter hovering parents, but I didn't. They were incredible. They let me go to the school of my dreams, a private boarding school for high school, an hour and a half away from home, called Choate Rosemary Hall. At 13 I was living away from home in a dorm like a college student in a school that looked like and prepped kids for, Yale. I was stunned by the freedom and responsibility I had gained all in a moment of "Yes, you can go".

I walked around the campus in awe of the whole idea, teenagers trusted and treated almost like adults, taught with insanely challenging methods and expected to perform at college levels. I was intensely curious about and slightly intimidated by, the other students that I likened to Rockefeller's and Kennedy's. I loved it, made my path and made good friends there. I knew it was a privilege for me to have received a scholarship and I was set on achieving. And I did.
My parents expected me to as well. They were proud of me, but they didn't send me gifts or money with every good grade. They didn't brag to their friends about my accomplishments. They expected me to do well and didn't take credit for it when I did. And they gave me freedom to choose.

Now, as I raise three boys and revel in their exploding personality developments...Ben is already a "Great Artist!" in his own words, and Bodee is a fierce competitor, Awesome at anything he does. Bronson is too young to be able to tell what he will excel at, but after three children, I get that he will find his passion. I see that, on one hand, as I parent, I am responsible for exposing my kids to different opportunities, to encourage them, guide them and be there for them when they give up hope on their dreams. The fortitude it takes, the patience, the commitment to be there and clean up when they are puking at 2am or drive them 6 places in a day or hold them when I would rather holler at them...all of that takes an inner strength that deserves acknowledgment. Parents have a very challenging job,albeit that they chose, and deserve kudos.

At the same time, on the other hand, who our kids end up being also can have nothing to do with us. They have their own worlds in their heads. They see things completely differently. They have their own lives, as Kahlil Gibran says...that we cannot visit, not even in our dreams...

Our children make their own choices every day, to do or not do the homework, to read or not read at school. To spit or not spit on the kid next to them. They choose all that. As a Mom I can say what I will, I can guide, threaten, cajole and plead..and try to reason til I am blue in the face....but when it comes down to it, it's all entirely their choice.

So I revel in their choices. I am fascinated by their gumption, interests and their accomplishments that have everything/nothing to do with me. And someday I will put the bumper sticker on the back of my car "Student of the Month", heck maybe I will even make one that says "My Kids Rock!" because they do. I enjoy them. They are their own bad selves and I celebrate them.

Zen Honeycutt

This photo was taken leaving a Moms Club Spring Picnic, filled with food, games, toys and sweets, and on the way to a birthday party, a perfect day for kids, so we declared it " Kids Day", celebrating Kids, and Bodee declared it "The Best Day Ever!"

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