It’s for the best

I am becoming increasingly convinced in my old age that everything I thought was important as a parent is not only wrong, but counter-productive to raising a decent human being.

Exhibit A: Preparing For College. For too long I’ve thought getting into college was a non-negotiable. And it’s true, economic data suggests a college education correlates to higher income. But in our haste to make all of our children somehow worthy, we have raised a generation of high achieving glass statuettes. Perfect, but fragile. Impeccable resumes, no life experience. Hundreds of followers, but few friends.

Exhibit B: Travel sports. Repetitive stress injuries are on the rise in children. We laugh at the professional athletes who go broke, but we sacrifice our children on the altar of sports vanity all the same. Timmy making the travel team propels us into the ranks of the elite parents, and gives us more magnets to put on our SUVs.

Exhibit C: Reddit. I like Reddit. I read video game stuff on Reddit because I am a nerd. The video game forums are filled with college-aged kids who can’t deal with life because they “have anxiety” or some other label. Please understand I am not diminishing the seriousness of mental illness. For a variety of reasons which I’m not going to get into here I am definitely in the camp of pro-mental health awareness. That doesn’t change the fact that as parents we have released into the world a species of highly evolved children who were selected for a fictitious environment that only existed in their parent’s imagination. Confronted without their specialized ecosystem, these organisms break down and start to fail. It is our fault collectively.

My takeaway from all of this? I’m trying to be kinder. I’m trying to right my wrongs. I’m trying to limit the amount of craziness we commit to. I’m trying to embrace boredom.

It’s for the best.

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Kinda broken right now

I am having a hard time processing the news. There’s a lot I want to say, and mostly it’s to my kids. I’m sorry you have to have active shooter drills. I really thought we would have been able to do something sensible right now, but apparently my generation was too busy figuring out how to trigger a dopamine response to get you to “Like” things instead of solving real problems. The good news in all of this is that you are the most connected, most tech savvy generation this planet has ever seen. I think you’re empathetic, and I think you can change the world. Go.

Things I hate: Back to School Edition

Angery doggo

I’ve been trying, really trying to let things go. This has been good for my mental health, but bad for blogging. Currently, I hate back to school season. I hate the asking for the money.  Back to school night is a giant waste of time. Nothing like some good bile to start the school year off right.

What’s currently cheesing me off is this cute trend of “homework for parents.” I’m calling it a trend because I got two things, and that is enough to irritate me.  In case you’re not up on “the trends”, here’s what goes down.

Your child hands you a piece of paper. “It’s homework for you dad.”

seriously, i graduated already

It starts off easy enough. Sometimes there’s a cutesy introduction. “Tee hee, sorry there you Grown Up Person but here’s a homework assignment for you, don’t copy from your kids LOL LOLLOLLOL

Teachers today talk in emoji. This does not concern me in the least.

Then there’s some basic demographic information. I’m trying to be a better dad, so I put in my own cell phone number instead of my wife’s like I’ve done every year for 10 years running. LOOK OUT, DAD OF THE YEAR COMING THROUGH.

Hmm… phone number… email… Tinder profile… Wait a second, what kind of relationship are we forming here? My understanding of the social contract involved is I pay my taxes which pays for the public school system, albeit barely, you do your best to teach my kids something they don’t know, and also you get summers off. I think I get the better end of this deal, particularly because my children think anyone over 10 is an idiot, so good luck with THAT.

I do not like where this is going. Oh wait, what’s this… “Tell me something about your child’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Oh you you don’t, sucka.

Snitches get stitches.

Find out their weaknesses on your own- I’m hoarding my hard earned knowledge of their psyche like a college freshman hiding cases of Natural Light in their dorm room.

Can you imagine this situation as an adult? “Hi honey, I had a great first day of work. Can you fill out this survey for my boss? He wants to know my weaknesses. Can you please just tell him ‘chocolate’ like we did at the last job?” “Sure dear, I’ll keep your near-crippling insecurities to myself.”

I get it, I’m supposed to be an involved parent and want the best education for my child. If I tell the teacher little Johnny is a little nervous in front of groups, the teacher is supposed to do something with this knowledge, either boost up little Johny or shelter him. I think both options are, at best, misguided and at worst, harmful.

I am beginning to understand why people start to get more conservative as they get older. Mostly because I am getting more and more convinced that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Sure, it seems harmless, even caring to tell a teacher your kid is a little shy. But in doing so I’m robbing the child of a chance to be not shy, to be unlabelled, to re-invent themselves. To start over.

No, I’m sorry Mr. Teacher. You get to experience my child as a stranger, and my child gets to practice being a person. Their insecurities are theirs to tell you as they see fit. There is no user’s manual for my child, no instruction book, and I’m not going to write one for you. Not because I don’t care, but because I do.