(originally written 6/23)
Yes, the first thing to come to mind is that officially there isn’t one of these days that I’m aware of. You’ve got mother’s day and father’s day. I think there is a grandparent’s day too. There’s president’s day and july 4th. But all of these are passive. I want to create a day with an action. So, Happy Parenting Day! If you exist, you have a parent. Some are better than others so I would like to celebrate the action, not the title.
As I write this I’m sitting at the window on a plane headed to a work assignment. Very cute baby in the back making some very cute baby sounds, for now at least. As we ascend and the pressure changes, these cute sounds may become blood curdling screams causing the new parents to glance to and fro in wonderment on how to quiet these socially disruptive sounds. It’s not like they can step outside for a few minutes.
But what really inspired me to write, besides the man in front of me that almost immediately upon sitting in his seat lowered it back, was the boy sitting directly behind me.
By his mannerism, I’m guessing preteen and first flight and/or a little spoiled. Maybe a lot spoiled. Grandmother is sitting in the aisle seat and mother is in the middle. Grandmother was trying to discipline from the aisle seat but it seems like quite a task when mother in the middle doesn’t seem to care about what’s going on. When an overhead bin was shut forcefully, he screamed and mom told him to not do it again. Same with the constant opening and closing of the windows shade. He also loves to chew on his gum very loudly. If there wasn’t this headrest I think I would be pelted with the spittle heading in my direction.
As the plane took off I was not disappointed with the yips he made during the sharp ascent and turns. The rest of the trip lay ahead still. Now so far it might seem as if I’m admonishing the mother for her kid’s behavior. I”m not. Yes I do find it annoying but I’m in a zen place for the moment. I am not a parent as far as I know, and while at this zen moment, I feel a little reinforcement about not having kids. I am feeling great admiration for parents and the crap they probably have to put up with on a daily basis, should they choose to do so.
Hopefully I’ll only have to put up with this kid for a few hours. They (mom/gm) might have to deal with this all the time. In my yoga practice I’m working on keeping my breath steady and in control. It takes patience. Finishing tasks, cleaning the dishes, picking up around the house, applying three layers of teak oil to a bench outside, all things needing patience. At work I do hear my colleagues talk about their families and their kids and all the good and naughty things they deal with. A level of patience I don’t think I understand. Without these Herculean efforts on their part, there would be far fewer kids and teens around, a positive prospect I’m sure for some people.
Perhaps this lack of paternalism on mine is an internal recognition of this lack of patience. Perhaps you must go thorough the pressure in the crucible of parenting to develop this level of consciousness and patience. For now though, I tip my hat to parents doing their parenting thing. Not the parents who are so by biological act but those actively engaged with their offspring, biological or not. The teen who asks about moving in with his father because of a ‘strict’ mother. The teen who is less patient with a younger sibling while trying to navigate their own changing self physically and mentally. The preteen needing to work on social skills in a new situation. The teen caught (clothed) in bed with a sweetheart because mom came home early. A child bouncing between two parents or two sets of parents +- grandparents.
From the lack of sleep of a constantly hungry newborn to losing sleep wondering if your teen is safe and out with friends while trying to let them make some less harmful mistakes parenting can’t be easy. Those trails of Hercules seem banal in comparison.
July 4th is coming up as a celebration of american independence. I choose today (6/23), the third monday in june to name Parenting Day. Be commercial and buy him/her/them gifts, but kids (whatever their age) might just choose a simple albeit a more personal, thank you that might be the best present they’ve received in a while.
Dad, thanks for gifts of knowledge and upbringing.
Mom, thanks for keeping strong in everything you do and the moral fiber you’ve helped instill in me.
Happy Parenting Day. You’re kids made it and you didn’t kill a single one, at least that I’m aware of.