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This Day in My History

2000:  Gay Pride #2
2001:  The Grand Tour, Epilogue
2002:  Not Dining with the Energizer Bunny
2003:  No Surgery!
2004:  The Golden Fire Hydrant
2005:  Funny the World
I Don't Understand People, Part 2

"Light in the Piazza"

Books Read in 2007

Updated 4/9:
"Paula Deen"


"BooBoo's Last Visit"

BooBoo's Last Visit
click here to download

In Flash Format

Mefeedia Video Archive

My Favorite Video Blogs

Desert Nut

(for others, see Links page)

Look at these videos!
Britain's Got Talent
(you MUST watch this!)
O Mio Babbino Caro
Women in Art

Steve & Jim's Dinner with
Charles Nelson Reilly

Family Stories Vlog
(updated 6/6/07)

New on My flickr_logo.gif (801 bytes)

Davis Madrigal Anniversry

That's My Answer

Have you answered
the Question of the Day?


18 June 2007

When you buy a new car, it comes with this lovely little leatherette folder with a thick book about all the car's working parts and what to do to keep them in prime working order.

Any electronic gadget you buy comes with books of instructions, sometimes written by someone for whom English is not the first language, that tells you what to do and how to do it.  It warns you about the things you should not do.  Puts big "NO!" symbols through the things you should avoid or it will break your shiny new thing.

The most important job any of us will ever have in this life is bringing a new life into the world and raising it to the point where it can stand on its own and go forth in the world and Do Good Things.

And yet there is no manual writer in India or some Asian country who is working on a manual to pack up with the diapers and the car seat and the receiving blankets when you take your new little one home from the hospital.

There are lots of books out there on parenting, and lots of theories about what to do and what not to do.  From The Bible to Dr. Spock to Supernanny, everybody has an opinion.  You can listen to the "spare the rod and spoil the child" theorists, you can read about the "building self esteem" theorists, you can read about active listening and positive reinforcement and time-outs and all the various theories that you want. 

In the end, you have to decide what works for you and for your child. 

It may be that we have manuals for our "things" because they are all built the same and are all supposed to operate in the same manner.  But children come with different personalities and there is no "one size fits all," so it's difficult to know what to put in that manual.

When you have more than one child and discover that they each are unique individuals with unique needs, unique demands, unique personalities, then the parenting becomes even more challenging.  What works for one would be terrible for the other.  One needs a constant reassurance of self-worth, while another needs the feeling of superiority...uh...moderated, shall we say, and another may need to be given more space to grow.

With any other skill in life, you can learn from your mistakes.  Do a better job the next time.

With parenting it's a one-shot deal.  You start out knowing nothing and have one chance to get it right and, of course, you don't know if you've gotten it right until it's all over.  Did you read the right books?  take the right classes? make the right decisions? There are no do-overs.  If you made a mistake, that's the ball game.

No matter how many times you've said "don't drive when you've been drinking," when your kid gets into a car with a high blood alcohol level and wraps himself around a lamp post, you wonder where you went wrong.  You did all the "right" things, you thought.  You taught the lessons.  You tried to give good example, so why are you standing in a cemetery burying your beloved child?

No do-overs. 

And then you learn that a child is in therapy to deal with the things you did that "contributed to the 'tortured soul' I've become." and you wonder what terrible things you did that turned a beloved child into a "tortured soul."

No do-overs.

In the end, you have to let it go, to realize that you did the very best you could.  You read all the books and took all the classes and tried to find the owner's manual that worked best for your own children.  You made mistakes but you always operated with the best of intentions and thought that the choices you made were the best which could be made, under the particular set of circumstances for that particular child at that particular time (while also juggling other sets of circumstances for other children at that same time).

Ultimately, once the child leaves the nest he or she begins to make their own choices (god how I hate pronouns!).  If they have children they begin the cycle all over again, without an operating manual, wondering how best to nuture another new life, making their own good and bad choices in the process.

At the end of time, we will all gather, all of us imperfect souls who somehow made it from birth to death making good and bad decisions that affect our own life and the lives of those around us.

And maybe someday, if we're lucky, we'll find out what it was all about in the first place and how close we came to getting it almost right.




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