Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wee bit o' rant

This deployment has been an adjustment for Ro, no doubt about it. But aside from one marked crying jag and a few reminders that letters are just as important as email, she's done remarkably well. She does remarkably well with most life changes, from stuff she can't affect (like puberty) to stuff she would be well within her rights to blame her parents for (like moving her around a lot).

She recently had her last day as a middle-schooler which was also sadly her last day with her best friend (whose own parents move around a lot - it's kind of a recurring theme in the Army), and the whole day saw her gently philosophical - a little bittersweet nostalgia that she acknowledged as it passed through her but equally optimistic about moving on.

Someone said I was lucky that my kid had that kind of attitude.

The fact that they thought it was luck silenced any further comment I could have made on the subject.

"Luck" is giving birth to healthy baby with no debilitating genetic disorders. "Luck" is watching her progress from toddlerhood to childhood without being subsumed by autism. "Luck" is taking her to a school that doesn't blow up from a gas leak. These things are lucky. The rest is work.

I'm not in a place anymore where I feel like I have to defend my work as a parent. Ro does that easily for me with her intelligence, honesty and humor. For a while there, I did kind of run around going "You see how well-adjusted my kid is? WELL THAT'S REALLY HARD WORK, SUCKERS! THEY DON'T HAND OUT YOU'LL-BE-FINE-PILLS TO PUT IN THE FORMULA, YOU KNOW!" Fortunately, I'm mostly over my astonishment that something as stable as my kid could come from a stunned 21 year old single mom who made $8 an hour and nursed a serious chip on her shoulder.

Mostly. *ahem*

But I am still, consistently, and even regularly bowled-over flabbergasted that the parents of Ro's peers haven't yet figured out the difference between luck and IT'S-CALLED-PARENTING-YOU-YAHOOS.

My kid ain't perfect, y'all. She's not great at finishing a job that she's lost enthusiasm for (or never had in the first place). She can turn a mole-hill into Mount-fucking-Everest in 2.6 seconds flat (a trait most adolescent girls share and which she may or may not grow out of). There are a couple of other things that make her human that may stick with her into adulthood, none of which concern me overly much and certainly none of which surprise me.

They don't surprise me because I pay attention. Not just to her, but to myself. I rarely do all the dishes in one go - I hate that chore and procrastinate as much as possible. Ditto brushing the dog or washing the car. So I can see how she wouldn't have picked up stick-to-it-iveness from me. I almost never employ tact at home (it's so exhausting!) and while she'll compulsively (and annoyingly) play devil's advocate with me, her friends and teachers tell me she's quite the straight-talker at school.

She rolls with the punches because I taught her - through instruction and example - how. She doesn't base her self-worth on what other people think of her because we don't shiv-a-git what other people think about us at home. She likes bad puns and slapstick because her dad makes her laugh with that stuff all the time. (They are huge fans of that Wipeout show - it's more fun for me to watch them watching the t.v.)

Ro isn't the way she is out of luck. Partly it was circumstances (based largely on my choices - which, hello! weren't always good ones) and mostly it was a determined effort to treat her like a person capable of rational thought. Listening to other parents of my acquaintance talk about their kids like glitchy robots incapable of self-determination makes me want to HOLD A MIRROR UP TO THEIR SOUR, PINCHED FACES.

Look, Aristotle said that the unexamined life wasn't worth living. I say it sure as hell isn't worth passing onto your kids.

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