Having kids is the best. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, “My Kid is a Terrific Kid,” and I really liked that. It’s not about being an honor student, not about being a cheerleader, not about anything they do…they are inherently terrific. I’ve read a fair amount about child development (Dinkmeyer, McKay, Gottman), attended parenting classes, and have three wonderful kids…I’m no expert, but I know I don’t want to manipulate my kids. I try not to let my own desires and wishes get in the way of my feelings for them. I want them to know I’ll love them regardless…always. They don’t have to win my love, they don’t have to prove themselves, I admire and love them…period. I want to encourage them, no question about that, but I want a feeling of unconditional love to always be present.
Sometimes I try and imagine horrible scenarios and think to myself….would I love this child of mine if they did this…or this…or wanted this (insert your own nightmare). And it’s hard…but yes I would love them, of course. Could I hide disappointment? I can imagine times it might not be easy. I want them to be successful and happy. I want them to live a good life. I have ideals I hope they will adopt, but what if they choose not to? I think of my own parents and the difficulty they faced when I left the church….something I know they always imagined and wanted for me. Something that is the most important part of their life…and I chose not to go that route. It’s not easy. Could I let my kids be themselves, make mistakes, and unconditionally give them my love and support. Can I let them develop and not impose my own desires and dreams upon them? You know, yes, I think I can. Although…I’m getting teenagers now, so check back in five years…hehe.
Well, the whole point of this entry is because of the fair. I love photography and so my kids become involved from time to time. I have two cameras; one for me and one they use (with me). They can use my lenses and equipment, and they have managed to take some nice shots. This year, they each entered three of their favorites into the fair. The other day, we found out many ribbons were won. We don’t know the specifics yet, but within their age categories and picture classifications each picture they submitted won a prize (a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd). That is so cool! They were so excited, I was so excited (and proud). At the same time I think to myself; I don’t want to make a bigger deal about this than I do about other things just because I myself love photography. I need to be excited about anything they do in which they apply themselves. And I am excited about whatever they do, but when something hits close to my own passions it does spark a bit more attention. I need to balance that. But let me gloat for a moment. Talk about cool. They took some great pictures. They cropped them, sharpened them, and touched them up using the google Picasa tool. Pretty dang cool!
Photography by Aubree (she won “Youth Best of Show”):
So, I want to encourage them without prejudice. Mikayla likes to play her guitar and write. I need to celebrate that with as much energy as I do her photography. Course, that isn’t hard. I love writing and music too. Aubree is a scholar and loves to read. It is fun to read and discuss books together (like the latest Harry Potter). At the same time, it can be hard not to put an strict expectation on her to get top grades. Education is so important. I know a good education will help my kids so much later in their life and so naturally, I want that for them. So, I try to set an example and encourage them. It’s nice that she chooses to place a high value on education and sets those goals on her own. I think encouragement and help from me are important, but I certainly don’t want any of my kids to ever feel that my love and attention are dependent on grades or any other “thing.”
Another example; watching Curtis play football. Man, it’s so hard not to get all proud and gloated when I see the little guy running down the field decked out in pads and bring down a nice long catch. He’s a good football player. I loved football but didn’t get involved at a young enough age and later wished I would have…so he’s fulfilling a dream I never reached. And dang if that doesn’t make it hard to just remain objective and let him play and not get too emotionally involved. I have to remember, this is his life not mine (which I think I do a good job of doing unlike some of the other parents). I try to cheer and be excited but at the same time not make him feel like it’s something he needs to do for me.
So there you have it. My kids are terrific kids. Not because of photography, football, grades, music, cute smiles, witty remarks, sweet hugs, kind acts, sensitive personalities, fun to play with, honor roll…or any of that. My kids are terrific kids because they are my kids. And I want them to feel free to explore and do whatever they want with their lives. I have faith that their choices will be, for the most part, ethical and bring them happiness. And they will make choices that make life difficult for them, we all do. When they do, I’ll try not to judge. I’ll love and support. Well, at least that is my prayer…that I can always do that. Course I make my own share of mistakes too!