I know my children are going to be well rounded adults someday, dare I even say cool. I even have a sneaking suspicion that they might surpass me in the coolness factor. This may not necessarily be an important trait to everyone, sure it isn’t going to get them into the best colleges. I encourage them to do well academically under penalty of death on a daily basis. However, your academic record isn’t going to win someone over on an interview. People pay far too little attention to promoting a healthy personality. This is why there is currently such an over abundance of assholes yelling “yolo” and “true dat” everywhere I go. There should be no shame in not following the crowd and not caving to what the popular kids in school think is the “in” thing to do. No one sees those people after graduation anyway. Here are some things I have done with my kids, especially my older one so far, that are steering them in the right direction.
1-An Introduction to the Classics–There are so many stupid things on tv and in film nowadays, I feel less intelligent after seeing the commercials that promote them. In addition to limiting my kids exposure to such things, I have or will make sure they see all necessary classics. Those classics include, but are not limited to The Star Wars Trilogy, ( the originals, not the prequels), Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Abbot and Costello, Young Frankenstein, The Thundercats and Batman, ( the ones with Adam West). He is too young for the Gene Wilder/Richord Pryor movies and The Jerk, but those will come in time as well. The films and shows are a rite of passage and provoke a person’s imagination, creativity, sense of humor and inner Jedi. They are an absolute must see. Besides, you need something good to counteract any and all exposure to Yo Gabba Gabba. What the f**k is that and why do kids love it? So weird.
2-Good Reads- Starting from when they were young, they were familiarized with the Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Giving Tree, On the Night You Were Born and Where the Wild Things are. They are all different and they are all wonderful for the littles. Now that we are venturing into the pre-teen years, I have Liam reading the Daniel X series, Wonder, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and The Witches. Captain Underpants and the Adventure of Ook and Gluck are in his library, by his choice. The above mentioned stories promote imagination, empathy, expression of feeling and again humor. I am a huge advocate of having a sense of humor. I truly feel that if we don’t laugh we will cry and who wants to be doing that all the time.
3-Appreciate their Interests- This is so important, especially if it is an interest you don’t necessarily understand or like (unless it is porn or petty larceny, then don’t encourage that). Kids need to find their niche. If they like something, they are likely to retain an interest in it. If they are really good at it, even better. You supporting that interest shows acceptance of their character. Liam loves legos. From an early age, he could build the most incredible things, from his own mind. So we started buying the really big sets from his favorite movies or tv shows. We spent thousands of dollars over time and I hate them because there are always lego pieces somewhere. If you have ever stepped on one barefoot, I promise you, dental surgery done through your rectum is less painful. He is really good at it and he has stuck with it for six years. He wants to be a mechanical engineer when he is older. I have no doubt that he will be and that he will be good at it. He has a natural ability and he enjoys it. When you can find work in something you are good at and enjoy, it doesn’t seem like work anymore.
4-Encourage them to Play a Sport-Too much time is spent indoors on clubpenguin or wizard 101 or playing WII, Playstation or I don’t know what. They need to be outside, running around, sucking up oxygen. They don’t have to be great at it. They are young and it is a league sport. However, they learn the rules of the game, the plays, good sportmanship and teamwork. Liam complains about football because the practices are grueling, but once he is there, he is having a blast. He loves gameday. The excitement is electric. He isn’t the best on the team and he isn’t the worst, but he is doing something that involves the movement of his whole body, not just his thumbs.
5-I AM THEIR MOTHER!!!– There I said it. I am their mom. I am awesome. I introduce them to all sorts of great stuff. I teach them manners, I ride them about their effort in school and I don’t spare the rod when it comes to discipline. I also let them get dirty, I get dirty with them. We go to museums, shows, concerts, zoos and amusement parks. I go on the rides, I pet the llamas. I don’t talk down to them. I try to put myself in their position when they are upset and inconsoleable. I am honest when they are wrong, or selfish or lazy or mean. I love them even more when they are sympathetic and kind. They have had ice cream for breakfast, the have skipped school to do something fun with me. I answer their questions honestly, within reason, depending on the subject matter. I try to be a great inspiration, I struggle to be a good role model. I do what I am supposed to do to fulfill my responsibilities, but I know how to laugh at myself, how to recover from a mistake, how to admit fault and to hold on to that part of me that wishes I could have been a kid forever. I don’t try to be their friend, I try to be their mom who enforces the rules, but can relax and have fun.
Hopefully, my efforts will lead to happy, well rounded adults that are a bit more focused than I am and a bit more easy going at the same time. Love you little booger machines, I truly do.