He­li­copter Land­ing

The Oakdale Leader - - NEWS - Teresa Ham­mond Teresa Ham­mond is a staff reporter for The Oak­dale Leader, The River­bank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at tham­mond@oak­dale­leader.com or by call­ing 847-3021.

Par­ent­ing is tough.

As I typed those words this morn­ing, I rec­og­nize that I will likely say them, think them or yes, even write them some seven mil­lion times through­out the course of my life­time.

New par­ents (those with lit­tles) heed warn­ing; the word “life­time” is placed there on pur­pose. As my duo grows older, it be­comes more ap­par­ent that this par­ent­ing deal does not get eas­ier. Equally so, as I watch friends send theirs off to col­lege or move them cross coun­try to seek em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties I see it more and more, they’re al­ways our ba­bies.

Just as I am to my mother, who strug­gles at times as she watches me par­ent my own and en­dure much of what that means.

Truth be told, it is in­deed the sin­gle most re­ward­ing, yet ex­haust­ing job I have ever been gifted and I would not trade that for the world. But again, par­ent­ing is tough.

One of my big­gest lessons, as of late, is my need to “land the he­li­copter” so to speak. I’ve al­ways been what I like to call an “in­volved” or “hands on” par­ent. Quick to help guide my chil­dren on how to be a friend, study habits or life lessons.

What I came to rec­og­nize most re­cently how­ever, as the par­ent of a 10- and 13-year-old is they can use a lit­tle less of this in some ar­eas of their lives. Guid­ance and ad­vice are never a bad thing, al­low­ing them to nav­i­gate a bit of this on their own how­ever is not just good for them, but nec­es­sary.

Kids are mean. That has been my mind­set since the first grade when my son’s fin­gers were slammed in a bath­room door in­ten­tion­ally by a cou­ple of “friends.” Be­ing in­no­cent and kind­hearted he had no idea it was on pur­pose. Grate­fully his teacher reached out and shared in con­fi­dence her con­cern as she rec­og­nized his in­abil­ity to see what we both knew.

That’s the beauty of the young right? Their zest for life, their trust­ing and un­jaded souls. But kids are mean.

Today they have the abil­ity to take a class­mate to their knees with a sim­ple so­cial me­dia post, or quick “snap” as they Snapchat.

But I must land the he­li­copter.

Even as I type this, it’s hard for me to fathom. What I rec­og­nize how­ever is those in­flu­ences; those tools which can be used for harm as well as good will con­tinue to plague our youth well into their adult years. Heck, even today I see grown women pas­sively ag­gres­sively shar­ing things via th­ese fo­rums to get at peo­ple they are at odds with. It’s a crazy time to be a par­ent, let alone a hu­man, yet here we are.

As I slowly pre­pare to take my air­craft to the ground, I rec­og­nize that com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween my chil­dren is more im­por­tant now than ever be­fore. Do­ing my best to not be naïve my­self, I also rec­og­nize said com­mu­ni­ca­tion is not likely to hap­pen in the tra­di­tional sense of a car ride, din­ner ta­ble or while watch­ing a fa­vorite fam­ily show. The real stuff, the stuff which trou­bles or be­fud­dles them seems to come more freely when shar­ing space which puts them at ease or free. A sim­ple walk for one, a bike ride or win­dow shop­ping trip with an­other and ca­sual con­ver­sa­tion. Non-threat­en­ing, open-hearted, non­judg­men­tal con­ver­sa­tion is per­haps one of the best things I’ve found thus far.

With that said, make no mis­take; I have ab­so­lutely no idea what I am do­ing. I rec­og­nize there are par­ents of older chil­dren read­ing this, shak­ing their head and mum­bling “good luck with that.” To that I sim­ply say Thank you. I’m up­front and hon­est with my duo. They know I’m just as clue­less on par­ent­ing as they are on their cur­rent sea­son of child­hood, yet to­gether we’ll nav­i­gate through it.

Ul­ti­mately, he­li­copter or not, that’s what we rec­og­nize and ap­pre­ci­ate in our fam­ily – we’re a team. We may not be the team to place first, third or even last, we will how­ever, be the team to fin­ish just as we started – arm in arm look­ing to sup­port one an­other to the bit­ter end.

Safe land­ings.

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