Thursday, February 19, 2009
As ego-centric young parents, we have the tendency to think primarily of ourselves.
When my firstborn became potty-trained, it was reflexive to focus on how much work that would save me and mom, the parents.
But really, the big story was the incipient independence of our child. After the age of 3 or so, the learning curves get quite steep - and it's well beyond, "Wow, did he really just say that?"
Every week, and almost every day it's something new. My son can not only now get 70% of his pee in the bowl (he's better in the shower), he can dress himself, he can (theoretically) put his toys away, get himself a drink, he's even saved his sister from mortal danger.
Just recently he (4.25 years old now) started make his own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and, a big one for me, I give him the keys and he eagerly runs up and opens the door when we get home. I'm always swamped at that point. Juggling groceries, a diaper bag, glue-ridden arts and crafts, dry cleaning, Princess C-Nut and whatnot. What a relief to not have to try to open the door with my hands full when it's freezing cold or raining.
I've got him conditioned to ask me all day long, "Dad, what can I do to help?"
Consider how many times you've ever heard a 4 year old brat ask that of their parents. See how radical it is in this decadent age to imbue a child with a sense of responsibility?
But this is the whole point, the end-goal of parenting. We are charged with raising self-sufficient, INDEPENDENT offspring. When they leave our house, they should ideally not only be able to provide for themselves financially, they should be able to think for themselves. Only when one ceases to be an economic AND an intellectual slave will they be able to appreciate the bounty of life on this over-heated planet.
I am going to try to make this an explicit goal. Each week we need to make sure our kids add a new responsibility.
My retirement depends on it!