This blog is old. You don't want to read an old blog, do you?

If you are not redirected to the fancy new blog in about 6 seconds visit
http://backpackingdad.com
and update your bookmarks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My child is an honors student at kiss my ass elementary.

We all know your kid is awesome. He poops rainbows and ponies and does charity work for orphans in Africa.

My kid is awesome too. And when I say that, I mean, of course, that I am awesome. Because that's what those bumper stickers really mean. I dread the day my daughter comes home with one of those little suckers from school and I have to tell her that there's no way it's going on my car. Sorry kid, I'm doing my bragging face to face. I want to see the look in their eye when I tell them you can speak Hindi and Mayan and that you just cured chicken pox. I want them to cower in the presence of the Best Father Ever.

That's what I'm secretly saying every time I brag. I am the Best Father Ever. I want to own seven different "World's Best Dad" mugs.

Because I'm insecure. I worry that I am not, in fact, the Best Father Ever. I worry instead that even though Erin can sign back to me pretty consistently now, and she is more comfortable in the water than most amphibians, that those things are badges of suburban parenthood rather than evidence of competent parenthood.

I love signing with her, and seeing her sign back, and playing the "Where's X?" game in ASL. I love that while I was gone she was asking her mom for Dada, using the sign to drive her point home: she missed me and she could tell her mom that.

I love swimming with her, and knowing that if she ever fell in the water on her own that she would be comfortable enough to hold her breath and try to break the surface; that if she could get to the wall she could hold herself up indefinitely.

But these things aren't parenting, any more than being at home while your kid is at school is parenting. Sure, they are accomplishments, and I had something to do with them, taking her to swimming lessons, or changing the channel to Signing Time. But did I really parent?

I think of parenting as teaching them how to be people, not how to do stuff. And if I'm ever confused about the difference I just need to look back at this morning, or just about any morning really.

"Erin. What are you doing?"

"Ha-anh?"

As I looked over at her approaching a trash bag I need to take down to the dumpster I quickly barked: "Erin. No." And I flashed the "no" sign.

She looked up at me, pointed at the trash bag, and then said "ha-anh?" And then she grabbed it.

"Erin. No!" Another flash of the sign, and she quickly drew her hand back.

"Ha-anh?" More pointing, and more reaching.

"No."

And then, taunting me, she proceeded to stare me straight in the eye while grabbing and releasing the bag four more times.

"I know what you're saying. I just don't care."

As a parent, I've taught her how to be defiant and curious. I don't need any badges for that.

I do need to take out the trash.

20 comments:

SciFi Dad said...

When my daughter does that she visibly shakes with excitement. She's three and she has already learned that defiance is a gateway to enjoyment.

If Erin is an honours student, I fear mine is working on her PhD (and in a couple of years, Erin will be too).

I need to start drinking whiskey and looking for that rocking chair/shotgun combination for the front porch.

MereCat said...

Ha! Our kids are about the same age and the trash bag stand-off sounds awfully familiar.

I've had many thoughts on what "good parenting" means lately. My MIL just criticized me for keeping my kids safely contained in a more than ample play space as opposed to letting them run willy-nilly through a house full of open staircases. Pisses me off.

Aunt Becky said...

ALEX DOES THE SAME DAMN THING. It's called, I think, "testing" but I like to call it "Being A Dick."

Love him, hate it when he throws dog food around.

Headless Mom said...

Ah, welcome to a lifetime of 'boundary testing'. Headless girl told me last night (after getting a job) that she really didn't want one so she could be 'right' about having too much to do this summer to get a job. Too bad there's someone willing to work with her?!

I'm just thankful that she will be able to fill her own gas tank occasionally-to the tune of $100 a pop! I could care less who's right, it's all about the money, baby!;-)

dadshouse said...

The title of your post is hilarious. And those bumper stickers suck. I keep telling my kids I want one that says "Proud Parent of a 'D' Student". (I just want the sticker, not the D student.)

Helping kids be good, happy people is better than getting them to accomplish stuff.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

Wait till you have teens testing their boundaries! OMG my kids are killing me! And yes, the overly competitive parent thing is enough to drive the grounded parents to insanity. Love the "one-uppers". Your kid can swim? Well mine is going to swim in the Olympics. Blah, blah, blah!! UGH!

Becs said...

Lol these comments are so funny. I seriously can't wait to have kids.

I hate the honor student bumper stickers. I will never put one on my car. Actually I don't want to put any kind of sticker on my car now that I think about it.

I am not a parent and know nothing about the topic but if it makes you feel any better, from reading your posts, you seem like an amazing father.

Stefanie said...

I think that defiance is pretty advanced and I fully agree that a big part of parenting, is shaping their personhood (whatever the hell that means). I love that my daughter has her own strong opinions about things. That part of my personality was a problem for my parents and they tried to snuff it out of me, but now that it's my turn to be the parent, I encourage her to be strong willed. Unless it irritates me. Then all bets are off.

Samurai Beetle said...

My husband thinks it's terribly funny to have a bumper sticker that says "my dog is an honor student from PetSmart" but then again, he is a dog trainer.

Whit said...

My money is on the bumper sticker.

Backpacking Dad said...

scifi dad: I need a porch.

merecat: but how are they going to learn about gravity?

aunt becky: that's what I'll start calling it too.

headless mom: summer jobs, woohoo! Now make her pay rent :}

dadshouse: hear hear.

twenty four at heart: my kid is going to swim in the Olympics :}

becs: as someone who used to remove those stickers at the car wash where I worked, you're better off not putting it on in the first place.

stefanie: your parents clearly failed at any snuffing.

samurai beetle: I think that's pretty funny too.

whit: I'd tell you to go to hell, but I just can't do it. You're probably right. I am that guy.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

That defiant and curious stuff will come back to bite you in the ass. Then it will grow up and major in Chemistry and minor in Theatre and you'll forget the hard times!

for a different kind of girl said...

In my continuing quest to relate each of your posts to something that has happened to me "in real life," I present the following:

I'm at work the other day, shelving kids books and sort of feeling like crap because wow, there are some seemingly perfect moms and kids out there and they were all at the BN on this day, and my kids snarfed PopTarts before I pushed them out the door for the bus so I could scurry to my minimum wage job.

So I'm doing my thing and I notice this mom eyeing me, feeding off my insecurity (or so it seemed, to go along with my thought). She pulls her very, very young child up to her and asks him to spell "truck." Kid spells it perfectly in his cute little kid voice and toddles away to mess up the Dora the Explorer books I just reorganized. The mom? She's giving me the look that was all "Bet your PopTart eatin' kids can't do that! Pffft!"

All I could think was I could spell something for her that rhymes with "truck," but, for the most part, I dig my minimum wage job, and that her kid, while smart, probably just wants to mess up books.

Also?

I probably overthink random enounters, but seriously, some of those parents who come to the kid's department make me feel less awesome!

Swanny said...

I have to agree with FADKOG. I also have encounters in my bookstore with these mothers/fathers/grandparents who have to insist that we all think their child/grandchild is the most precious child on the planet.

To them I say, "You're incredibly high if you think I'm going to believe that the 3 year old in your life is reading at a 5th grade level."

As you said, be proud of the people you raise your children to become. Accomplishments mean nothing if they have no way to reasonably interact with the world around them.

My wife and I recently welcomed our second child into the world. Every day, I hope that we're going to be able to raise responsible people that we can be proud of.

If we do, then the world will know by way of their actions and Jen and I won't have to preach it to people who shouldn't care.

AEA said...

I have a different point of view: you are obviously psychotic. Just think about it: you essentially put your daughter in grave danger by allowing her to touch a bunch of chummy (read: baked, encrusted, and discarded salmon skin-ny) trash. So congratulations. Time for that warm whiskey I recommended, big man.

Backpacking Dad said...

jenn: I would love it if she majored in chemistry and minored in theater. But I'm going to pressure her into Marine Biology/Dance.

FADKOG: Erin just said "FADKOG has awesome hair and probably knows what prestidigitation means." Bet your pop-tart-eating kids can't do that. :}

Swanny: congratulations!

AEA: You're psychotic. Don't ever marry a crazy woman who digs Russian literature. Oh, too late.

Manager Mom said...

I told my husband (and I think I stole this from somewhere but it perfectly encapsulates the importance of a Dad in a daughter's life) that if he does ONE THING, he needs to keep his daughter off the pole someday.

So long as she doesn't wind up a stripper or a porn star, he will be the Father of the Century, in my opinion.

caramama said...

My child is obviously a supergenius. I see that your is as well. ;-)

As I see it, the problem with taking credit with all my supergenius' remarkable advancements as due to my parenting is that I'd also have to take credit for the things that aren't going so well. Like her sleeping issues or fussiness. Hmmmm. I don't like the sound of that at all.

You'll support me if I only take credit for the good stuff, right? The bad stuff I'll blame on her father. hehe.

Backpacking Dad said...

manager mom: I think that's a Chris Rock bit. And I am in total agreement.

caramama: I will definitely back you on that one. Erin's defiance? I blame it on her mother.

that girl said...

Great points.. all of them

BTW, our trash can is still on top of a counter and our younges of over 2. I never did find a good solution short of literally putting it up.

I think the act of analyzing your parenting makes you a very competent in itself.