July 9, 2004 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Put Up the Hoop Sooner: lessons of parenting, gleaned through the rear-view mirror
posted by stupidsexyFlanders (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That's a really nice article; I have a one year old and could almost see myself twenty years down the road looking back. Time will tell I suppose, and I reckon those kids love their Dad a great deal, sounds like a good guy; imperfect but aware.
posted by zeoslap at 1:51 PM on July 9, 2004

His comment about vacations hit that all us kids are grown, when we reminisce about family vacations, we notice that quite often we don't remember what the actual destination was, or what attraction we were off to see. We remember my younger brothers fighting over who got to go fill the ice bucket at the motel, finding the motel pop machine (many in those days were the ones where you pulled out a frosty 12 oz glass bottle), the roadside tavern (my dad, apparently trying to shelter us, never called them "bars") with the ice cold Cokes in bottles where we looked at the bottom to see whose came from the furthest away (one one fateful trip my brother had a bottle all the way from Wyoming), the cool shuffle board-type bowling machine in the tavern, and pulling in distant stations on the car radio. Along the way we saw the Smokey Mountains and the Mammoth Caves and Niagara Falls and Plymouth Rock, but it's the "getting there" memories that seem to linger.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:00 PM on July 9, 2004

I was with him right up until the Bonus Wish. It recast everything preceding it as maybe more frivolous than I had noticed. Still, there are probably things here I'll wish I'd pay more attention to as my kids hit their teenage years.

But what do I know? I spent 20 seconds trying to figure out the equation 1=3584"> before realizing it was just a typo and clicking on the link.
posted by soyjoy at 2:04 PM on July 9, 2004

Thanks. Great Article.
posted by internal at 2:47 PM on July 9, 2004

good stuff!
posted by jacobsee at 2:52 PM on July 9, 2004

My boys are 2-1/2 and 5, and for the first time, we drove from NY to MI to see my wife's family, instead of flying like we've always done--what a difference. Sure, they got a little restless sometimes, and using my laptop as a DVD/MP3 entertainment system really helped, but still, it was great fun. Finding a motel to stop at overnight, eating at the crappy local diner, getting stuck in traffic right next to the bloated deer carcass...they loved it all. (And then deciding to stay for an extra week at Grandma and Grandpa's, because their big cousins were coming to town for a few days, and we didn't have plane tickets to worry about.) Much, much better than flying.
posted by LairBob at 2:55 PM on July 9, 2004

One of the most serious regrets I have as I look back at my life so far is that I failed to take vacations. There was always time to bill, expectations to meet, and rarely enough money in the bank to make me feel comfortable with "blowing" money on hotels, restaurants and transportation.
My kids are now 17 and 18. (The 18 year-old is a member of Metafilter.) They've both been to the ocean now, with friends, and I wasn't there to see them encounter the surf for the first time. Both have gone skiing with friends, and I wasn't there to pick them up and laugh with them. We've never gasped together at the Grand Canyon, or seen Mount Rushmore.

We can still do much together, and most certainly will, but I missed the opportunity to make those memories when they were 5 or 7 or 10. Those memories will never exist, because when I felt the need to take a vacation back then, I buckled down and went to work.
posted by kcmoryan at 3:31 PM on July 9, 2004

My girl is 2 1/3rd (the one in the tutu, gratuitious self link). This totally hit home. I think about it all the time. I hope I can remember this kind of stuff every day for the next 16 years.
posted by daver at 4:14 PM on July 9, 2004

One of the most serious regrets I have as I look back at my life so far is that I failed to take vacations.
Funny, I was thinking much the same thing. We get so wrapped up in just surviving that we forget to stop and just do something without having to have a solid, defendable reason for it. It is not even a matter of money, usually, just that the overhead of existing seems to take up all our energy. Why can't we just decide on Saturday morning to throw the tent and some sleeping bags in the car and just drive to nowhere in particular for the weekend? Because we have fallen into the habit of having to plan everything down to the last detail to make sure that there are no nasty surprises. Guess what? No nasty surprises means no nice surprises either.
posted by dg at 5:14 PM on July 9, 2004

Jesus, that articled almost made me tear up. What the hell? I hate kids.
posted by Hildago at 5:31 PM on July 9, 2004

You're not parents until the kids outnumber you. When three kids run off in three different directions and you and your spouse have to decide which two to chase, then you're a parent.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:33 PM on July 9, 2004

Not that it matters but I find that quite offensive mr_crash_davis.
posted by filchyboy at 10:48 PM on July 9, 2004

Whether or not it is offensive is up to the individual, I guess. But it's true.
posted by dg at 10:54 PM on July 9, 2004

I'm just a full-time uncle, but I completely agree with crash on this one. As an uncle, I try to play it more as an older buddy than a parent, but with my parents aging, I have to do a lot of disciplining as well; it's an awkward role. Now that they're teenagers (15 going on 12, my dad says, due to various impediments), I fear more for their unpreparedness than anything -- and fear the end of the best chance we've had to influence their lives.

That's a nifty quote from Bettelheim. My dad actually met him; his dad knew him at the University of Chicago.

God. Saying that is something my dad would do.

posted by dhartung at 11:41 PM on July 9, 2004

You're not parents until the kids outnumber you. When three kids run off in three different directions and you and your spouse have to decide which two to chase, then you're a parent.

Heh. But I'll bet you both knew instantly which one could be safely ignored for a moment while the other two were chased down.
posted by jalexei at 5:23 AM on July 10, 2004

Jeez, I'm pretty sure having a child makes me a parent. Rocking him for hours while he screamed with colic, washing sheets at 3 a.m. because he'd thrown up on every clean sheet in the house (lousy aim), cheering his first steps and watching his stunned expression when he realized he wasn't holding on, helping him build a miniature beaver dam in 4th grade and yelling at him for failing German in high school have all contributed to my certainty that I am, in fact, a parent. Teaching him to drive a standard. My standard.

Crash, buddy, you've gone from one-on-one to zone defense. Every kid is a unique individual and every parent has a different experience. I'd have loved to have more kids, but life doesn't work out the way you think. I wouldn't for a minute trade being the parent I am to the kid I have. No matter how many kids you might have, and no matter how much or little your kids or my kid achieve, you can't possibly one-up the way the back of my son's neck smelled when he was newborn, or the way it smelled when he came over and gave me hug because that article teared me up.

I cannot believe I'm going to post something this sappy.
posted by theora55 at 10:15 AM on July 10, 2004

9. I Would Have Touched Them More

posted by angry modem at 10:32 AM on July 10, 2004

I just spent the last hour outside in my sunny back yard with my 6 1/2 month baby girl. I was pushing her in her infant swing that hangs down from our big tree, then we sat in 2 inches of water in her plastic pool and splashed the water (she was naked with just a sun hat on...awesome.) Times like these are the things that make life worthwhile. This article TOTALLY hit home. Thanks for posting it.

To me, nothing is better than being a parent, and I NEVER would have thought that before being one. I couldn't possibly understand that before being one.

And angry modem, come on. The guy didn't mean touch them in THAT way. I LOVE touching my daughter. She is the softest, warmest, most wonderful-smelling thing in the world and I love touching her. And she loves being touched.
posted by aacheson at 3:48 PM on July 10, 2004

Just today I was thinking about my usual fantasy of taking Joshua to see Antietam Battlefield National Park. I just gotta hold off for another four years or so until he's ready...
posted by alumshubby at 8:34 PM on July 10, 2004

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