As a fan of the Detroit Tigers and a graduate of Michigan State University, I’m a huge fan of Kirk Gibson. A two-sport All-American at MSU, he clinched the Tigers’ last World Series championship in 1984 with two home runs in the deciding fifth game. He topped that with his historic one legged pinch hit walk off home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 Series for the Dodgers.
Gibby has always been a no-bullshit, take no prisoners type of guy. It’s what made him such a great football and baseball player and it makes him a great baseball manager today. So it should not be a surprise that he takes the same attitude when it comes to parenting.
On Thursday, Gibby’s son graduated high school. Gibby was in Texas, managing the Diamondbacks to a 11-3 win. When asked why he missed his sons graduation, he said, “You’re supposed to graduate.” On some level, I agree with him. Everyone is expected to graduate from high school. Barring special circumstances, it’s not an event warranting the celebrations people put on.
While earning a high school diploma may not be much of a challenge, graduating from high school is a significant rite of passage. Make a quick list of the milestones in the life of a child and you will include first steps, first words, potty training, first day of Kindergarten, first lost tooth, first bra (gulp!), first date (double gulp!!) and it all ends with the high school graduation.
90% of parenting is just showing up. Being present is the most important tool in parenting. Kids don’t really remember when their parents were present, but they certainly remember when their parents were absent. In 20 years, Gibby’s son is going to remember one thing from his high school graduation – that his father wasn’t there.
Sorry, this time Gibby struck out. (Yep, I went there).
In our house, we use Triaminic Thin Strips when our kids get a cough. Recently, we’ve had trouble finding it in stores, so I checked the website to make sure they still produce the strips.
When I went to their website, I was a little surprised. Included in the standard website headings, such as “About Triaminic” and “Product,” was a tab titled “Tips for Moms.” Yep, apparently only moms use Triaminic.
Clicking on the tab, it gets a little worse. Under the header, it reads “Moms know they can trust Triaminic. Moms also know how to put helpful tips and tools to good use.” Seriously? Did the internet just take me back to the 50s? Did Triaminic hire Sterling Cooper to handle their advertising? Not only do they slight dads by using outdated parenting stereotypes, they also manage to patronize moms as well.
We’ve all seen internet memes from Leave it to Beaver time, such as this one, which mock old-fashioned gender roles. Apparently some companies haven’t learned that 50s era family stereotypes should only exist in television and movies.
I mowed our lawn until my son was born four years ago. With a 3 y/o and a newborn in the house, carving out even a half hour for work outdoors seemed impossible. So, like 95% of my neighbors, we hired a landscaper to take care of it for us.
This spring our landscaper retired. He offered the name of the guy who was taking over his business, but I said no thanks. I decided it was time to do it myself. More importantly, I realized it was something I should do for my kids.
So I tuned up my 10 year old mower, that had been dormant for 4 years. Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t know how to tune up a mower. So I went out a bought a new one. I also bought an edger. And a trimmer. And a blower. (I told you 95% of my neighbors use landscapers, didn’t I?).
So how does this benefit my kids? I think it’s important for them to see me do yard work. When I was growing up, my dad mowed the lawn, painted the house, fixed everything, etc. He had a workbench and a lot of great tools. (As a child I never saw my dad do plumbing work, but when I had a plumbing problem at my first house, he brought plumbing tools!) Watching and helping my dad gave me the skills and confidence to make minor repairs at home. When the air conditioner in our attic was leaking, I had the confidence to go up there and try to solve the problem before calling a professional. I feel it is important for my kids to learn the same skills and to try to solve problems themselves.
And, not surprisingly, the lawn looks much better than it the last few years.
Growing up, my family always sang Happy Birthday after the candles were blown out. When I started attending birthday parties with my kids, I noticed that a lot of people sang Happy Birthday first, then blew out the candles. It seemed odd, so I set up a poll on SurveyMonkey and sent the link to a lot of people. The results were overwhelming: 92.1% of you are doing it backward.
Like the only kid in the marching band who’s marching in step, I feel the need to correct the rest of you. Blowing out the candles first provides for a much more natural flow to the party. Check out the difference between these two scenarios:
The wrong way:
- Candles are lit.
- Everyone sings Happy Birthday
- Child starts to blow out candles. Everyone yells, “NO, make a wish first.”
- Child quickly makes wish and blows out candles.
- Golf claps.
Compare that to the right way. Pay attention:
- Candles are lit.
- Child closes their eyes and patiently makes a wish.
- Child blows out the candles.
- A wild singing of “Happy Birthday” ensues.
See the difference? See how how that flows naturally? See how you were wrong? Exactly.
Now that you see the error in your ways, please spread the word. If I have to attend another birthday party where someone is doing it wrong, I’m burning down the bounce house.
Yesterday, there was a blog post on Mamapedia titled Stranger Danger for Parents. The writer, Helen Smolinski, tells the story of being in a playground and noticing an older gentleman who does not appear to be with any of the children at the playground. As she later mulled over the incident, she was concerned that the man may have been a danger to the children, and she felt concern over her failure to take action.
A few weeks later, she was at another playground and noticed a younger man in the playground wearing a parka with a hood pulled over his head on a sunny day. Again, she noticed that he didn’t seem to be connected to any of the children in the park, so she approached him and asked him which kids were his. When he became defensive, she actually pretended to be a member of the Park Service and continued her inquiry. Ultimately, he led the writer to where his children were playing. She then turned to the father and said, “I hope you can understand my concern. You know, one parent to another.”
No Helen, I do not understand. Throughout the article, I wondered why you had singled out these men. Would you have felt the same way if you saw a woman in the park without any children? I doubt it. Further, neither of these men were doing anything inappropriate, they were just sitting in a park.
I believe “it takes a village” and feel we all must have each others’ backs in parenting our children. But paranoia and acting on stereotypes harm us all. According to the statistics on the website linked in your article, only 5% of sexual abuse is perpetrated by a stranger, while 39% are committed by family members and 56% are committed by acquaintances. So what were you thinking?
From your first use of the word “gentleman” I wondered what the gender of this person had to do with the story. It became obvious when you immediately spotted a man suspiciously dressed during the second incident. Were you also keeping a lookout for suspicious women? Would you have approached a woman in the same situation?
Worse, your article continues to perpetuate stereotypes about sex offenders and causes parents to overprotect their children, taking away pieces of their childhood. Parents stay on the lookout for “Chester the Molester” even when the statistics show that only 5% of sexual abuse is committed by strangers. This type of paranoia forces parents to prevent their children from participating in perfectly safe neighborhood and school activities.
I live in a very safe community. I am confident that my 7 y/o can safely walk the three blocks from our house to the elementary school/community center, but I don’t let her because I am afraid that someone will call protective services if they see her walking alone. Your article perpetuates this paranoid behavior and makes is more difficult for me to parent my child the way I would like.
Spoiler alert: This post discusses the January 18th episode of Modern Family. If you’re not watching Modern Family, you need to start.
The January 18th episode Modern Family was punctuated by two year old Lily dropping the F bomb. Several times. Not surprisingly, this caused a mild shit storm, led by an organization called the No Cussing Club™, who’s leader was so pissed off he bitched to ABC. (Gratuitous swearing intended).
First, the only shocking part of the Modern Family scene was why it took them so long to address this subject. The show is popular because they riff off of situations that every family has experienced. From family vacations to school projects to parent/child battles, we’ve all been there.
And every parent remembers the first time their child swears. Mine took place when driving. I was in a hurry and the car in front of me sat still at a green light. I yelled “what the fuck?” My comment was immediately echoed by my 3 year old son from the back seat. I laughed, then turned up NPR, hoping the additional words would cause him to forget the one that daddy just taught him. When I got home, like every good parent, I laughed about it with my wife, then posted it to Facebook, where it received humorous responses from friends.
Which leads to my second point, the reactions of Cam and Mitchell. When Lily swore, Mitchell sat horrified, while Cam ran from the room laughing. Cam was right. Any person who fails to laugh when a 2 year old swears, is wound way too tightly. Hearing a child swear, especially your own child, is funny.
These events serve as reminder that there is no perfect parent and, certainly, there’s no perfect child.
Tonight my nearly 7 y/o daughter came downstairs and said she had a bad dream. (Please ignore the fact that we know she didn’t have a bad dream, but that would have meant she had actually been sleeping, which she wasn’t. She was stalling.) But I played along:
Child pads softly down the stairs. Mom and Dad look at each other and roll eyes and silently channel one of our favorite parenting books.
Wife: What’s wrong?
Maddy: I had a bad dream.
Me: What was it about?
Maddy: Do you have to tell you everything?
Obviously, she came up with this admittedly clever response to hide the fact that she had not really been dreaming. But tried to keep her eye on the ball.
Me: Actually, yes. Yes, you do.
At nearly seven, I do want her to tell me everything, for two reasons. First, I want to know what’s going on her little head. What does she think about, what really makes her happy, what makes her afraid and, yes, what does she dream about? I need to know this to be a better parent. The more I know the more I can guide, direct and teach her. The more I can help her learn right from wrong, to keep her happy and to help her over the speed bumps.
But more importantly, I like having a window into her little world. I know that a 7 y/o’s comment about “do you need to know everything,” leads to an 11 y/o telling me “it’s none of my business” and a 16 y/o telling me to “shut up.” For now, it is important to keep the lines of communication as open as possible and hope that I’m laying a foundation for positive communication in her teenaged years. Mostly, it’s just being selfish and allowing me to know as much as possible about this cute little girl. To be amused by her enchanting observations and her twisted logic for the events in her life.
Mostly it’s about holding onto the 7 y/o as long as possible