Today our thirteen year old daughter enrolled at our local community college. We had a very pleasant orientation with her advisor, and then the family – the four of us – toured some new facilities, some really incredible facilities, that will be her home this quarter. Phee stayed at the school with her dad for the rest of the day, while Nels and I came home to our own undertakings: some football and tailoring work, resp.
College matriculation for my daughter came up rather abruptly, as it happened. So my mind is still trying to put pieces together. Unhelpfully, I am breaking new ground and at a loss for mentors. I am also once again in a tiny bit of a spotlight: the moment I publicly announced our daughter’s acceptance to college, I was flooded with parents publicly and privately demanding I tell them how we accomplished this. I’ve also had a handful of well-intentioned (?) people ask me if she was ready – if we’d thought about This, or thought about That.
Well, sheesh. Yeah, we’ve thought about This, and we’ve thought about That. Ralph and I stay up nights talking about our children, our parenting, our family, our community. We talk about it when the kids are in earshot, and when they are not. Our children are the most important pieces of our lives. We’ve built our entire family structure on prioritizing them (and I’ve been writing about this, passionately, for over a decade) – parenting against the cultural standard every step of the way, I might add.
And now – it’s paying off. I mean, it’s paying off yet again, because it has been paying off since get-go. It’s just paying off today in a way that other parents tend to notice. Parents ask me “how [I] did it”? I say – we prioritize our kids’ health and authenticity over Every. Damn. Thing. Non-punitive parenting, and de-institutionalization (a fake word but a real Thing) is often too scary for many parents.
Adults – not just parents! – want kids to perform. To score academically! To read early! To be good at (culturally-recognized forms of) math! To win the tournament! To somehow be OK, because that will prove we are good parents and by inference, good people. To prove the cultural and familial hazing we endured was somehow necessary and should be continued.
So: yeah. When my kids suddenly stand out in some way, I get the queries. You know… the queries where people really want to know “how [I] did it”, but don’t seem to listen when I respond.
If I sound too irritable, well first: you are reading my personal blog which means you’re looking at my thoughts in their underpants, as it were.
Secondly: I will get past it. I’ve had a lot of changes in our lives recently and I’m a bit overwhelmed.
But here’s the thing. I am a human being. I need mentors, just like you. I need support, just like you. And I really need those things when I’m doing something new not only to me, but new in my community.
I’m coming to see that being a groundbreaking family in this way or that way means there are times I might not get the support I’d wish for. I can’t hold that against anyone. I get it.
But my priority will always be my family.
I’ll be working – especially with these recent changes in our lives – on supporting myself, my partner, and our children in this next leg of the journey. And when I figure things out – well I’ll be sure to share, –
as I always have!
And as always – readers? I’ve written thousands and thousands of words on parenting. I’m no expert on anything except perhaps my own life story (and there’s doubt about that!), but I do pass on what I’ve learned.
If you are new to parenting, or if you’re not new but willing to learn new things: come join us. I welcome your emails, your constructive comments.
Let’s do this together!