Good Parenting

It’s rare that I am genuinely touched by a Facebook status that is shared and reposted with a remarkably high frequency. You know the kind. That picture of the kids that hold a sign which says if they get one million “likes” their dad will get them a puppy. Hey kids, try feeding yourself and one sibling breakfast every day and flushing the toilet after they go to the bathroom four times a day for a month and then ask your dad again. He will probably say yes and appreciate your hard work instead of the peer pressure. Unlike that nonsense, I read a popular post today about Dick and Rick Hoyt, a father and son team that competes in marathons, triathlons and ironmans. Why is this extraordinary? The son is handicapped and during these grueling races, the dad is pushing him in a wheelchair the entire way, pulling him in a dinghy as he swims or biking with him on his handlebars.
Rick was handicapped from birth and couldn’t communicate or use his limbs, but thanks to his parents and some Tufts engineers (Go Jumbos!), they devised a way for him to communicate electronically rather than verbally. When a race was planned to benefit a high schooler who was paralyzed in a car accident Rick told his dad he wanted to run in the race. So Dick ran the 5 mile race while pushing Rick in his wheelchair the whole way. With a huge smile, Rick told his dad it was the first time he actually felt like he wasn’t handicapped. And so, their great history began. Dick competes in these races with his son to fulfill his son’s greatest wish and to see his joy and elation. What an amazing dad! What an awesome example of great parenting!
Isn’t that what great parenting is really about? We try to do everything we can to help our kids achieve their goals, experience joy, and live full lives. Lately I’ve been caught up in the trials and tribulations of parenting a feisty three year old. (Whoever said it was the “terrible twos” was some kind of bastard probably waiting around to watch the exacerbated faces of parents with three year olds muttering to themselves like crazy people, “but I thought we had gotten through the terrible twos so easily?!?”). I keep worrying about the things she does to test the boundaries, the attitude she’s giving me, the silliness she’s instigating in ballet class. It all stresses me out and infuriates me. In large part because I don’t know how to effectively nip it in the bud and/or keep my cool and not let it get to me. I’m feeling less confident in my parenting every time we have an issue.
My husband tells me often to “see the forest through the trees”. How wise and annoying he is. He’s right, of course (just in this instance. Don’t let that go to your head, babe). She’s three and it’s normal for these issues to drive us both crazy, but I refuse to give in to this behavior. I think I’m the better parent for it. It’s my responsibility to keep her and her sister healthy, happy and engaged so when they figure out their loftiest goals and fantastical dreams, they will be able to achieve them.
So the little things will all add up (I tell myself like a mantra for sanity’s sake). I will brush their teeth though they will fight me tooth and nail (literally) so they will be healthy kids and adults. I will take them to school, ballet, music and whatever other activities they seem interested in so they grow to be intelligent and well rounded individuals. I will painfully give them the boundaries they need to teach them to be kind and respectful of all people (starting with me, for crying out loud!). I will instill in them the values and morals that their father and I think are important so they will be good citizens of their community and always treat people (and animals) with kindness. In whatever way I can, I will help them achieve their goals just as my parents did for me and as Dick Hoyt has so heroically done for his son, Rick. They are truly an inspiring duo!

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