Sunday, August 12, 2012

Perfect parent? Me? Yeah-right!

by: Joelle Charbonneau

I am the worst parent in the world.  Okay, maybe that’s overstating.  I mean, I’ve only been parenting for a mere four and a half years.  There are lots of folks out there who have been doing this for a lot longer, which means they have had more opportunities to screw things up.  Right?

My son is four. He’s my first and after the scares he’s given me he might be my last.  Like any parent, I try to keep him safe.  The thing is, my best efforts to be a responsible parent seem to end in tragedy.  Kind of like the time I took him to the park and he wanted to go on the big slide.  He was a large nineteen-month-old, but the really big slide looked – well, really big.  It seemed irresponsible of me to let him go down alone.  I mean, what parent would let their kid go down a really big slide all alone when they were only 19 months? He could fall off or worse.  So, I did the only responsible, safe thing I could think of – I went down the side with him. 

And he broke his leg.

No, I didn’t fall on him, although in retrospect that would have made far more sense than what did happen.  My son squealed with delight, kicked his left foot out and caught the edge of the slide for just a moment – long enough for him to twist it perfectly and cause a tiny break. All because of my desire to have perfect parenting skills.

Since then the tot’s head had made impact with the corner of the coffee table, taken I don’t know how many dives to the concrete from his bike and had had his chin broken open because of a close encounter with metal steps on the playground slide.  (Hint...when metal steps and chin collide, metal steps win every time.)  Yep, despite my best efforts, I seem to be doing everything wrong.

Or am I? 

I admit that I have started to look for guidance for my parenting life in my publishing journey.  The first four manuscripts I wrote I did with careful consideration for the subject matter and the tone.  I tried to do them perfectly.  None of them sold.  In fact, despite my best “parenting” of those they weren’t and still aren’t publishable.  However, the fifth book I wrote I did without worrying about being perfect or even selling.  I sat down at the keyboard, let my goofiest ideas take over and had a blast.  I wrote for myself and forgot about the need to be perfect.  That book, as wild and wacky as it was, sold.  And somehow when I wasn’t looking I wrote a young adult novel without understanding any of the young adult novel rules.  It, too, sold.  I understood the rules, put them away and just wrote.  By doing so, things seemed to work out.

So, now that I’ve learned a lot of rules about parents, I guess I’m working on learning how to stop trying to be the perfect parent.  But I need help.  If you have any tricks you’d like to share about how to survive the parenting experience, please do!  I have a lot to learn, but the one thing I know is that like my books, the kid is going to have some rough patches and he’s going to have some fabulous moments and I hope that when I go back and look at my whole parenting story I will find that my son and I both enjoyed the ride.  

And in case you hadn't heard, our very own Dave White has joined the ranks of parenting.  Congratulations to the entire family.  I wish you all lots of sleep and great future!


Diana said...

The only rule you need for parenting: Read everything you can about how to parent, then chuck it out, and do what works for you and your child.

Some times all it takes is rewording what you are saying to them. If I said to my son, "If you don't clean up your room we will not go to the video store," then he would not clean up his room and we would not go to the store. If I said, "After you clean up your room, we will go to the video store," then he would clean up his room. It is the same thing: clean room, go get videos. But in his mind there was a difference.

Just do what works and ignore anyone who thinks you are a bad parent.

Congratulations to Dave White!

Vicki Dolezal said...

Best way to parent is to develop the goofiest, silliest, and most twisted sense of humor and take it day by day. There's a lot that the so call parenting experts decline to mention. Like there's a serious risk you may unload your bowels all over the delivery room table during birth in front of total strangers. That's a bonding moment with your nurse. Or the day I caught my son's toddler vomit in my bare hands to save my carpet. I caused several people to faint with that story. Hey, I wash a lot easily than the carpet does.

Think its stressful now? Ah, my darling, the joy has just begun! Someday you will need to discuss certain PRIVATE activities with your son. Remember Sam's happy time from Transformers movie? Oh yeah. I have started to knock every time I even come in vicinity of my teen son's door, even if its ajar just to avoid my own traumatic nightmares, let alone dooming him to therapy. And he will learn driving next year. I am having heart palpitations just thinking about it.

Plus I now have two girls to shepherd through life! Shaving, fashion, make up, dating, etc. I have already reserved a bed at Bellevue for myself however they are haggling with me over the view from my window and my dessert privileges.

God gave you Max because he knew you were the best and only Mom for him. And I agree :). That or God has a twisted sense of humor....

And I know us having kids is our parents' way of subtly getting revenge on us for our own childhoods! :p