TWITTER: @sirbacon123

29 July 2010

A Lesson Learned

As the father of three amazing kids, you might think that I could teach a Parenting 101 class.
Well, think again.
Let there be no doubt, I am still the student.
Rarely does a day go by that I don’t discover a new way of making a mistake.
Like I’ve said many times, there is no handbook to being a parent or at least I have never seen one.
I entered this parenting thing as cold as the Winter Carnaval in Quebec City.
And let me tell you, that’s cold.
The Carnaval is so cold.
How cold is it Gene Rayburn?
The Carnaval is so cold, they keep their ice sculptures outside to make sure they don’t melt.
That’s cold.
True story.  I’ve been there.
Ok, enough with the weather, back to the news.
For those of you longtime parents, stop laughing at me and just nod when I say -- kids become different when they reach the teens.
In the Jewish religion, we call it a Mitzvah, Bar or Bat.
The Catholics call it Confirmation.
Bruce Springsteen just called it Growin’ Up.
As a parent, this is a new world that honestly I was not prepared to enter.
Then again, I wasn’t prepared for any of this.
And neither were my parents.
My mom never met her father.  
My father’s father died when my dad was nine, putting my dad at the head of the table, while he was still sitting on a phone book.
My mom and dad had no siblings.
Family in our house was centered around Kristy McNichol.
So when my wife and I learned thirteen plus years ago that I was going to be a dad, she might as well have told me we were going to adopt a Komodo Dragon.
I knew the same about both subjects.
I have made my mistakes over the years, PLENTY of them, but when you are dealing with young-ins, the simple mistakes fortunately don’t do a whole lot of damage.
So I put the diaper on backwards, I let them eat a little dirt, I left the breast milk out.
Ok, that was a bad one. 
But now that the kids are actual thinking-speaking-reacting type people, the damage can be a lot more.... damaging.
For example, I have not been able to get it through my thick skull that my 13-year old daughter has exited the Kid Highway and is now traveling down Young Lady Lane.
She knows I love her more than anything, but now she’s entering an age where I have to be more creative than just saying it.
In fact, sometimes I get the feeling she doesn’t want me to say anything at all.
She’s got it covered.
A couple of days ago I noticed she was miffed about something.
What, I had no idea.
But instead of sitting on the sideline and watching her work through it on her own, I got involved.
Bad move.
I said... What’s wrong?  What’s bothering you?  What happened?
I probably asked more questions than the SAT exam.
And with each question, whatever was really bothering her became a distant memory.
I was now Public Enemy #1.
Unfortunately the conversation ended with fireworks worthy of the 4th of July.   
I got mad, she got mad.   
I got more mad, she went to her room.
The door closed.  Maybe even slammed.
Not the first time that has happened.
Not even the first time this week that had happened.
But it was so bad that my wife had to step in and give ME a time out.
And I’m glad she did.
I don’t remember every word in the lecture, but I remember the message.
Stay out of her airspace.  For now.
Let her fly on her own.   She will come back. 
Not in those words, but that’s what Google Translate told me. 
Stay close, but not too close.
She wants your ears more than she wants your words.
And be there when she needs you.
And she will need you.
Talk to her about music, a restaurant that you like, something you saw on iCarly.
Talk to her about ... about anything other than her. 
Considering my wife was once a 13-year old girl, I figured I needed to take notes and listen.
And listen I did, loud and clear.
Fortunately for me, I was able to apply my newfound knowledge almost immediately.
Yesterday we spent the day at the community pool with my wife’s family -- 14 in all, including nine kids, all 13 and under.
(That’s another blog -- one I won’t be able to publish.)
At the pool, I played with my six-year old daughter and three-year old niece for quite a while.
All the while keeping an eye on my 13-year old.
From the moment I got to the pool, I could tell she wasn’t really interested in hanging with me.

I think the fireworks show was still fresh in her mind. 
But the more fun the three of us were having, the closer the 13-year old got.
Within about 20 minutes, our gang of three became a quartet. 
The day became about swimming and nothing else.
Things went so well that when we left the pool, my teenager wanted to ride home with me.
We listened to music.  I listened to her.
No more fireworks, just a spark.
When we got home, SHE walked over to ME, gave me a big hug and said, “I love you dad.”
No cue cards or anything.
I think I passed that test.

When is the next one?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sir Bacon

When my son turned 21 , he took me to dinner " to apologise for the lost years , age 13 to 19 ", when we were less than understanding with each other .

This rite of passage with your daughter will pass , treasure your time together and love her as you would have like to be loved at 13