you can pick your friends.
you can pick your nose.
but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.
maybe you can’t pick your friend’s nose, but you can hire people to pick the lice out of your kid’s head. in fact, you can outsource all sorts of parenting challenges, from toilet training to saying no. some of the things you can get someone else to do for you, quoting NY Magazine:
- … TEACH HIM HOW TO RIDE A BIKE
- … TAKE HIM FISHING
- … TALK TO HIM
- … IMPART GOOD BREEDING
- … TEACH HIM THE BIRDS AND THE BEES
- … GO ON COLLEGE TOURS
- … DRIVE HIM EVERYWHERE
understand that i’m not completely innocent here. when BC was young, we had a hell of a time teaching her how to sleep, compounded by a never-ending ear infection, reflux, and an inability to gain weight, which meant she needed to be fed around the clock. i read books, i tried a zillion things. the girl wouldn’t sleep. it caused problems in our health, our family life, our work and everything else.
to make a long story short, when jools was beginning to exhibit serious sleep issues, i heard of a magical person who would help us teach hellboy how to sleep. it was a good thing, too, because BS and i could not agree how to handle the problem. i probably would have never let jools sleep anywere except in our bed or in my arms until he was 40; BS would have simply closed the door and walked off into the sunset, leaving the boy to scream. all. night. long.
(when you’re sleep-deprived, few ideas seem insane.)
this was nearly five years ago, but for $300, this person performed nothing short of a miracle. she taught us how to teach our son to sleep. her sleep solution, somewhere between my and BS’s ideas about sleep training, put us dazed parents on the same page, allowed us to continue dream feeds for a time (jools, too, was underweight), and get the boy to sleep through the night pretty rapidly. the dude is still the best sleeper in the house, and it’s all thanks to the extremely wonderful magical sleep person. if i ever see her again, i will hug her endlessly.
by teaching us, she saved my family.
i often wonder about why some people have children. i think kids are just sort of part of an expected tradition in our society: get married, get a house, have kids. but some people simply should not breed. maybe they simply aren’t ready; maybe they’ll never be ready; maybe other things are more important to them. get a cat; don’t make a baby. unlike any other relationship in your life, the parent-child bond cannot be broken. you can divorce your spouse, ignore your siblings, end friendships.
but your child will always be your child. not an accessory. a living person who requires your involvement and your guidance. it doesn’t matter whether both parents work inside or outside of the home. it’s not the quantity of the time you spend — it’s the quality. and while every single solitary moment does not need to be a Mr. Rogers moment, there are certain things that a parent ought to do. and there are certain things a parent should want to do.
i wonder why parents outsource certain activities. teaching your kid to ride a bike and taking them fishing (or shopping or whatever your recreational activity of choice) — these are fun times not to be missed. and what parent doesn’t want to be there to ask and/or field questions when touring a college? (you can bet your ass i am going to make sure i find out about the party situation on campus and be as involved as the kids will let me when the time comes.)
and simply talking to your child? discussing sex? teaching him/her how to be a decent person? hello??? this is why you’re here. to share your ideas about how to be a kind and contributing member of society. it’s one thing if you need guidance on how to do any of these things; as the cliché goes, kids don’t come with a manual. so seek out help if you need it with some of the thornier parts of parenthood. read books. talk to clergy or professionals. ask friends or relatives.
but when the actual doing needs to get done, do it yourself.