My child, like many children, is headed back to school. Being a typical mother, I look at this event with both incredible sadness and incredible excitement. While I can’t wait for my child to explore the next great thing, to discover the next amazing truth, and to create his own works of perfection, I also can’t help but look at him and remember him in all his newborn and tiny wonder. I will probably never have another child, and yet each year I am slowly losing the ones that I have. As they discover and begin their own journeys, the only thing I can do is try and instill the stepping stones that will make them the great humans I know they are capable of being.
In the last years, these are my stones:
1. No matter what, demand perfection. Your children will never achieve it, but it may give them the ability to one day demand it from themselves. (And nine times out of ten they don’t disappoint)
2. There is such a thing as a missed learning opportunity. Everyday, every conversation is a chance to teach your child something new.
3. As important as it is for them to win, it is just as important for them to lose. Even to their old mom. Beat them occasionally; not only will they look at you as the coolest thing, but you will have bragging rights for days.
4. Never, never assume that you child can not understand. While there are times I wish I could shield my child from the horrors of this world, there are times when a peep, a glance, a single blink of the eye into the whole is important too.
5. Just because they are wrong, doesn’t mean you are right. Imagination is a wondrous thing; don’t take it away by always correcting them. Sometimes the world really has purple cows, and there isn’t anything wrong with it.
6. Sometimes its important to have desert for dinner. Breaking the rules teaches more than just chaos, it can teach that there is always another way.
7. Despite the fact that you have an image of your child as this sweet, beautiful and innocent little darling, they can’t remain that way forever. Pick your battles; and listen to the oldies while driving.
8. Changing behavior mid-stream is really hard. Err on the side of caution and be really mean. You can always relent and be nice on Saturdays.
9. Buying your child the latest and the greatest will not make you happy. They will still demand food, potty breaks, and other entertainment at the most inopportune times; during the ending of your favorite show for instance. Don’t break the bank hoping for a full hour of peace and quiet.
10. There are times to be the cool mom and there are times to be the bad mom. Being bipolar my children get random glimpses of each at unpredictable intervals. But the cool part is, that love does conquer all…that and they truly don’t know the difference. Forgive yourself, mostly your child isn’t going to remember anyways.