Parenting never ends

So…had an interesting “stream-of-consciousness” event today that I’d like to share with you.

By “stream-of-consciousness” I don’t mean some high-falutin’ new-age hallucination or spiritual experience or any of that hoo-hah.

What I’m talking about is simply that my mind likes “to think”. And “to think” usually means one part of my mind (the ADD part, or possibly considered to be the “subconscious” part) wanders through the mazes of corridors in my brain where memories are held, pulls one out, dusts it off and presents it to the conscious part of my mind. Other times, the subconscious merely travels gaily over happier times and sings aloud in a cheery voice, while presenting each item to the conscious. In yet other situations, the subconscious will reach back into some weird dead-end alleyway in my grey matter, pull up something that absolutely makes the conscious cringe and then shake it back and forth in front of the conscious until the conscious screams “NO MORE”. Actually…depending on my mood, sometimes the conscious, when presented with an especially odious memory, one that would surely cause spasms of embarrassing torture, actually turns to self-defense and merely shrugs off the memory with dismissal. I really like those days.

Anyway, so I go out to McDicks to grab some lunch, I swing by Growler Guys and pick up what looks to be a fantastic pilsner craft beer (in 32-ounce cans…because they have a canner!!) and on the drive home (which seemed to take an eternity), I had these interesting jousts between conscious and subconscious.

Subconscious:
Hey. Remember when you were young and Ranier beer was horrible piss-water?

Conscious:
Sure!

Subconscious:
Remember all those years when you drank too much, got sick, and you were generally a bad person?

Conscious:
Um…yes.

Subconscious:
You’re a bad parent.

Conscious:
That remains to be seen.

And then the Subconscious began dredging up multiple bad memories, one after another, in dizzying succession.
An oldest son that I can’t see right now and who lives somewhere else reasonably close to where my house is, but I don’t know where it is.
A second son, who is 21, with no job, mild depression, and has one foot in our house and his other foot in various houses of his friends.
The thought of what if the girls start drinking and partying and being “bad”. What will we do with THAT and how will we deal with THAT?
Finally, thoughts representing our parenting decisions and beliefs through the years began to be thrown to the conscious, one closely behind another:

Subconscious to Conscious: YOU used to believe spanking was important, biblical, and downright necessary in order to guide a child into right behavior patterns and to “spare the rod” would have certainly “spoiled the child”.

Conscious: I’m not sure we believe that any longer. In fact, if memory serves, for some reason, the “rod” was never necessary with our girls and they therefore, by all rights, should be “spoiled”. And yet, they aren’t. For some reason, even though they can be mouthy at times and have some interesting attitudes, nonetheless, at this point in time, they seem to be moving forward with a solid gait and with little hesitation. Kath and I were just commenting on this the other day: they are so much more innocent at 16.5 years than Kath and Kevin ever were. On the other hand (prepare to rage boys!), we certainly did NOT “spare the rod” with the boys and, sadly, they are…um…let’s just say that at this point, they are not moving forward in life as much as we’d like.

Subconscious: YOU dragged your kids to Seventh-Day Adventist church when they were very young. YOU more or less forced them to be vegetarians against their will. YOU filled up their minds with end of the world scenarios and other potentially scary subjects. YOU were a bad parent.

And then my conscious mind came back to its earlier response: “That remains to be seen”.

The conscious mind then took over for most of the rest of the trip home and started presenting ideas and scenarios that sort of helped beat back the negativity of the subconscious.

If “that remains to be seen” is true and can be counted on to always be true then the following thoughts must come out of that:

  1. Parenting is going to last until you, the parent (or, God forbid, the child) are dead. This is huge. This means that, at 51 years of age…good heavens…we are not done. We will never be done. Sigh.
  2. Parenting at various levels or ages in life is probably never the same. In other words, you parent a 3 year old differently than when, as 20 year old’s, they are shouting obscenities at full rage volume 2 inches from your face.
  3. Parenting and parenting philosophies go through phases in tandem with phases in the parental belief system and/or their general “philosophies of life”.
    1. At one point in time, we were a two-church family with the Dad going to a Seventh-Day Adventist church on Sabbath (Saturday), and Mom going to a Calvary chapel on Sunday and the kids being dragged hither and yon between the churches in attempt to be “fair” yet not wanting to church the kids out. Yeah. Try making sense of that one. Yet many families today are in this predicament. [I, the Conscious, am glad that Kevin and Kathy are currently a “one-church” family.]
    2. During the early stages of our parenting experience, both Kathy and Kevin were tremendously more conservative in what they felt should be “appropriate” for their children to see and participate in. Harry Potter was, at its simplest, humans being entertained by witchcraft and was thus forbidden. Fast forward to today and basically, nothing is completely off the table (except, perhaps, porn!) as long as there can be frank discussions as to what was seen and understood (or not understood!). Back to the past: Lord of the Rings – Fellowship of the Rings was fairy tale nonsense and probably shouldn’t be watched. Well…I suppose one time wouldn’t hurt…hmmmm…this movie is amazingly “immersive”…wow…wonder what the sequel will be like (and so on, and so on – are you seeing how parenting starts to change and morph as the parents themselves “grow up”?).
  4. The parenting of today hopefully will help you in some way (small or large) for the parenting of tomorrow (and the next year, and the next decade, and so on).
    1. Allowing yourself TODAY to be more flexible than you’d like usually will result in favorable future parenting predicaments and solutions. We’re not saying allow bloody murder and absolute anarchy in the home, but we ARE saying that flexibility (even if it’s simply a matter of waiting a few days to think things through a little more before you drop some bomb on a kid in response to something they did) has a huge tendency to help you, both in the present, and in preparing for the future.

After this bit of stumbling around by the Conscious, there was finally this:

Conscious: And this is why I have hope for the future.

Right when the word “future” left my mind, I drove right by one of my sons friends who waved at me and I waved back. My brain almost interpreted it in slow motion…it was surreal. It was cool. I was immensely enjoying this little car trip!

This allowed us (my subconscious and conscious) to segue to yet another form of “parenting” that I’d like to jump to briefly: parenting other people’s kids.

Seeing that kid on the side of the road made the Subconscious go scurrying back to the archives to bring back the memories, faces, names, behaviors, and lengths of time spent with a whole host of other people’s kids.

Subconscious: how about THIS one?

Conscious: yeah, she was interesting. Very artsy, very expressive, very loving, mostly happy, yet very stern in some ways. When we think back to how she was raised in the home on the street next to ours and how slowly we began to be told how she was abused emotionally and almost abused sexually and how she quite literally ran away from that home and had NOWHERE TO GO, it makes us sad. We remember the city park she slept in that first night. We remember her palpable fear of the future. We also remember her trust in God. Interesting juxtaposition, no? We think that maybe the stern-ness and fire in her personality somehow relate to how she learned early in life that life ain’t fair and when things aren’t fair, people get mad and then they almost have a larger sense of “right and wrong” than others because they’ve had to deal with such indignity and the others did not. We think of how we tried to help make sure she was taken care of at My Friend’s Place (a beautiful and cleverly named shelter for teens-with-troubles that is located near our house) and we remember with fondness (coupled with a smidgen of sadness since she has since moved on) the time we invited her to live in our home and all the adventures therein. We remember, after approximately 6 months, when she found another home to live in that could also employ her as a live-in nanny to their children and how happy we were to have played a small part in “helping her find her way and get going in life”. Shee-oot…I’m tearing up just thinking about it. Sigh…you sloppy emotional old man (sez the Conscious…the Subconscious had fallen asleep).

Subconscious (jerking awake): and this one?

Conscious: Hmmmm…that one was an extended family member who has since passed on. What do you do with someone who has been so broken in life, with failure after failure (which tends to reinforce: failure) that they simply want a roof over their head, some food to eat, and some conversation to help pass the time (and to act as a salve over the wounds in their psyche)? I’ll tell you what you SHOULD do:

  1. Love them.
  2. Learn of them.
  3. Try to set loving boundaries.
  4. Try not to be a dick to them.
  5. Learn to let go of them because most likely what is going to happen (even though you dread it) is that their behavior patterns are so “locked-in” that they are going to somehow end up ripping your heart out in one way or another. And they don’t disappoint! The end result was exactly as described. Sadness abounds.

Subconscious: OOH! Remember THIS one?

Conscious: Ah…the two brothers. Raised together, but absolutely different from each other. What I enjoyed most were the times when we all sat around and talked politics, the economy, and life and relationships in general. It was really interesting hearing the Gen-Y/Gen-Z perspective(s) and noticing that some members of those generations really are hard working and truly do save money and generally act responsibly. Sadly, others do not fit that profile.

Subconscious: …which brings us to this one.

Conscious: Sigh. Raised LDS. Rebelled in high school. Somewhere along the line (presumably “high” school) discovers cannabis (get it? “high”…”cannabis”…I’m hilarious and I slay me!). Proceeds to blaze his way into obscurity and a dream-like existence. Looks up from his silent reverie one day and asks: “is any of what I’m physically seeing actually real?”. I’m not joking nor jesting, this is what the child said. His parents moved away and left him here. You could argue that that sounds like cruel and unusual punishment, yet I’m probably on the side of the parents. These kids are 21 years of age and older now, have beautiful bodies and muscles, joints, and overall energy at a MUCH higher level than I currently possess. I therefore do not feel the least bit sorry as to their predicament. In another blog post I will tell you about a moonlighting job I took at a local restaurant. If Kevin, at 51, can do the hard work of bussing, hosting, expo, and soon-to-be server at a local high volume mid-level restaurant, basically by applying on a WHIM one weekday (a few months ago), then the youth of today have little to no excuse. I think the real trouble here is that us Gen-Xers basically gave Gen-Y’s, Gen-Z’s, and Millennials everything their little stupid hearts could desire. And we’re surprised when they don’t act grateful for the little things? We TRAINED them to not be grateful. All the doo-dads, gee-gaws, and “sail-fawn” technologies of today were showered on these punks, in our Gen-X efforts to “give our kids more than we got when WE was kids”. Silly silly Gen-Xers.

At about this time, I arrived home from my seeming eternity of getting food and drink. I have already eaten the fine food from McDicks and I am halfway through the 32 ounces of fine 7% pilsner I purchased from Growler Guys. It is now 3:12 on a Saturday afternoon and I have a “dinner” shift at the local restaurant tonight starting at 5:30 and going to approximately 8:30. My goal is to double (in tips) what I make in minimum wage. Wish me luck. When I reach the “Server” station in life at this particular restaurant, my hopes are that those tips quadruple. We shall see.

I have just enough time for a one hour nappy so that I can be happy.

I will try to post more thoughts in the coming days, ESPECIALLY as relates to the several new “albums” I’m working on. Two appear to be solo piano in nature, while the third should hopefully be “fusion jazz” (whatever THAT means to you, heck…I’m not even sure what it means to ME?).

I am so happy we had this chance for me to spill my thoughts to you dear readers. Maybe someday I’ll turn on Comments (and then I’ll have to moderate them…Ugh…) and we can have a conversation betwixt like-minded individuals. Ah…that actually reminds me of future posts where we shall talk politics and the meaning of true liberty (as enshrined in TRUE Libertarianism (of the likes of Mises, Hyek, Rothbard, and Lew Rockwell)) and hopefully we shall all enjoy one another’s company.

We shall see.

Until next time,

Kevin B. Selby