The “best” parents are those who don’t have children. I know, because I was the “perfect” parent… until I had children of my own. Prior to becoming a mom, I quickly rattled off what I would and wouldn’t do if someone else’s child were mine. I was arrogant and naive.
I’d see families on the plane, and immediately search for the seat furthest away. As their child wailed or kicked the back of my seat, I thought to myself, “If only that were my child, they would behave. Why are they traveling with children they can’t handle?!” Fast forward to today; Kwabs and I have traveled, domestically and internationally, with our kids, since each of them was 8 weeks old. There have been times when they cried, insisted on playing with the seat-back-trays in front of them, and refused to remain seated. We pleaded with them to be quiet. We bribed them with snacks and toys. Nonetheless, they didn’t want to behave, and there was NOTHING we could do but pray and exchange apologetic glances with nearby passengers. Their behavior wasn’t due to a lack of discipline. It was because they were KIDS, and like kids, they didn’t want to be confined. They wanted to be free to explore their surroundings by touch, smell, and taste (Myles puts all kinds of disgusting things in his mouth). When I complained about insensitive travelers, a childless friend commented, “I wouldn’t be in your position because I wouldn’t take my children on international trips.” That stung. While, I agree that would be the easy solution, it is not the solution for us; we like being with our kids and are determined to expose them to the world.
Prior to having kids, I observed parents whose children were having temper tantrums in the middle of a store and thought or muttered, “That would not be my child. That child needs discipline.” Fast forward to today; Myles falls out constantly. If he doesn’t get a piece of my candy, if I refuse to carry him around the house all day, if I say no-to the floor he goes. His actions aren’t a reflection of bad parenting, they are a reflection of a 16-month-old who is testing the boundaries and the best thing I can do is patiently ignore his outbursts.
In my former life, I had conversations regarding parents whose kids consumed a lot of television. I recall saying, “My children will only watch 30 minutes of age appropriate programming per week. We will have a home where we read books all the time.” Fast forward to today; we have banned television during the week, but there have been Saturdays when Max binge watched Power-Rangers, because I desperately needed a nap. On one occasion I made the mistake of letting him watch Thriller. For the next month he swore he saw Michael Jackson every time the lights went out. In spite of my missteps, we still read together and the teacher reports he is doing well in school.
Prior to having kids, I overheard parents talk about feeding their kids processed food and thought to myself, “My children will have home-cooked, healthy meals every night.” Fast forward to today; Max recently had a class project entitled, “What I would do if I were president.” I anxiously anticipated the brilliant contribution to society that President Max planned to make. Imagine my surprise when I read, “If I were president, I would give chicken nuggets to the world.” My face dropped. Does that mean it is time to start baking something other than frozen chicken nuggets?” Kwabs and I work full time jobs outside of the home; some nights we are too tired to cook. Thankfully, the doctor says Max is healthy, and not in danger of dying of a chicken nugget overdose.
Parenting is hard and all parents want what is best for their children. However, perfection is unattainable; the “best” parents recognize this and smile in spite of it.