Last Friday, Nala and I visited Kaio's school to make gingerbread houses. Where they each ate a plateful of refined sugar candies and I about lost my cool over the thought of all that crud in their systems. But I controlled myself in the name of tradition and not ostracizing kids from childhood joys. At home I convinced them to save some of the candy 'for Santa' and we stuck it in the empty fireplace. That lasted a night.
During the mega sugar gram cracker house decorating, Kaio's assistant teacher made a comment that Kaio brings the healthiest lunches ever and they're always interested to see what he inside, "and he actually eats the vegetables. How do you get him to do that?"
"We've worked on it alot." I said, like a mother who knows what the heck she's doing.
The truth is, I'm scared.
That I'm screwing up my kids. That I'm too lenient and forgiving and this will teach them to be reckless. Or scared that I'm too tough and dictatorial, and this dissolves their trust in me. Scared that I'm not feeding them the right foods or that I've poisoned them with vaccines and by drinking too much beer when I breast fed. Scared that I wont be able to provide them with as many opportunities and choices as I had growing up.
We all aim to give our children better than we had. With the financial meltdown and high unemployment after college, I know many new professionals living with their parents and struggling to get the middle class footing. I heard on the news yesterday that many believe they will be worse of than their parents generation.
I doubt I'll be able to send the kids to a private school of their choice. I'm not sure I'll be able to fund summer schools around the globe. But what I do think/hope I can give them is communication. I hope I can explain the world to them. So many things in life I had to figure out for myself or trust in one person's insight - that turned out wrong.
We learn to adapt and I've started to learn how to ask smart questions when I don't know something. I never did that before. So many things I didn't understand going into college. Like, not knowing what all the majors were. I had no idea that anthropology was different than paleontology. Not knowing that you don't call your teachers 'teachers' in college, you call them 'professors.' And bigger gaps; like not knowing there were different types of birth control pills; I thought there was only one 'pill.'
I want to give my kids open communication. I hope we can talk about life without the level of embarrassment instilled by my family. Nine years old and watching a movie on the couch with my dad, a word came up I didn't understand, "what's PMS?" They sent me from one parent to another and neither would explain. This happened during a Thanksgiving dinner with extended family. So maybe it just wasn't the right place to discuss.
But seeing Mari's family completely open with each other and functional inspires me to follow and just say things to the kids. Just blurt out that "taboo" stuff. They're like my roll models on a functional communicative family.
When we visited his family shortly after Kaio was born, I hadn't received my period in a couple months and took a pregnancy test. I gently emerged out of the bathroom and his family was chatting in the other room. I discreetly shook my head, 'No' at Mari.
A little later he announced to the room that I'd just taken a pregnancy test. I flushed red, mortified he would discuss this with his parents. They looked at me, "Is that true?"
My face folded at the lips, showing I felt foolish for taking a test that obviously was in my mind.
But they carried on unphased, like it was normal dinner conversation. And his mom talked about how she had Mari and his sister back to back like Irish twins even though she breastfed during that time.
So I might not be able to send the kids to the school they want, or I want. But I hope I can provide them with the elements that link books and life together, explaining how the world works (that means I'll have to figure it out first!). Debating with them through ideas and politics. Guiding them to walk their path without some of the stupid and avoidable mistakes I made.
That's a pretty lofty goal though. we all make stupid mistakes, no matter how great our parents were.