Raising kids (or a kid in my case) is not the easiest task in the world. I’m not sure if the constant second guessing continues with each child one has or if that’s just a characteristic of the first child (aka guinea pig) but what I do know is that I do a lot of second guessing. If I were to ever have another child, which I’m not, there are things I’d do differently but not because I don’t like the product, just because I’ve learned better.
My daughter is stubborn and opinionated and kind of lazy (I’m throwing in the “kind of” so she doesn’t get too mad at me) and funny and goofy and smart and talented. She gets riled up by injustice and modern art. She thinks YouTubers who are complete goofballs like Lizzza and Superwoman (who are apparently cousins, incidentally) are the greatest things since ice cream. She also loves ice cream. And in complete defiance of her o’naturelle mother, she loves make up. She and I are pretty different but she pointed out the other day that although she and her dad are more alike in personality, she and I are more alike at our core. I’ll take that.
This young lady has taught me a lot about myself and life and I thought I’d share some of those things with anyone who cares to read.
- Wearing make up does not make someone superficial or mean that they have low self-esteem. Now of course I knew this already but when I saw my little girl putting on make up my first thought was “What doesn’t she like about herself?!”. It turns out it’s not that she doesn’t like herself the way she is naturally, it’s that she likes to be able to control the way she looks. To be honest, I still struggle with this because I don’t like to put energy into my external appearance and get a little judgy when she does it. I’m learning though – I even wear mascara sometimes and I like it…
- Stand up for others! Again, I knew this one already but have never mastered it like my daughter has. When I was a kid and someone said something that I knew was wrong, I would shrivel up inside thinking about what I should say to them. My hands would get clammy, my pits would start itching (seriously, that still happens when I get nervous) and my mouth would usually stay shut (my mouth typically doesn’t stay shut anymore). Not my kid though… She was “dating” this 8th grader who she caught making fun of a kid who has some kind of developmental or social disability. On the spot she dumped him, called him an asshole, and literally never gave him the time of day again! My husband and I heard a friend of hers refer to someone as “retarded” the other day and the response was instantaneous – “Don’t say that!”. This applies to people who say racist things, sexist things, homophobic things, etc. She won’t stand for it and it doesn’t really matter who’s saying it. Watch out Trump!
- If you raise a child with reason rather than commands, that child will be very good at arguing a point. A friend of mine had a baby when we were in high school and I remember her telling me that babies hear the word “no” more often than any other word. That has stuck with me ever since then and when my baby was a baby I rarely ever just said no. If I said she couldn’t do something I would tell her why. I wanted her to understand that there are good reasons to not stick her finger in a socket or run away from me in the Chicago Public Library down the street. It really didn’t take long before she could tell me exactly why she thought it was ok for her to have another cookie or to argue whatever point she was making. There have definitely been times that my position has changed after hearing her out. Just the other day she said “before you say no to getting me this shirt, let me give you my reasons…”. She wants to be defense attorney right now and I’m not surprised.
- Apologize when you’re wrong!! This is a big one parents – we make our kids do it all the time but probably a lot of us are hesitant to fess up when we’ve messed up. If I snap at my daughter for something and realize it while I’m snapping or shortly thereafter, I try to catch myself and tell her. I might explain why I’m snapping (long day, bad night’s sleep, frustrated about stuff, etc.) and apologize for my irrational response. I’ve noticed her doing the same thing recently and am proud that she’s adopting this practice so early in life.
So like I said at the beginning; raising kids is hard and second guessing yourself is par for the course. But I have a teenager who still hugs me and likes to snuggle, who stands up to bullies and injustice, who laughs and goofs off all the time, who knows she’s smart and who can apologize when she’s wrong or acting cray cray. I might still second guess my decisions and actions at times, but I’m not second guessing the quality of person I’ve been a part of creating.