The Alumni Blog : parenting
Remember those stories starting with “It was a dark and stormy night?” Indeed it was, that first night of our weekend trip with my four-year-old. We were standing the middle of a deserted parking lot, a few miles past the Yosemite National Park entrance. My friend handed my son the lantern, which cast a soothing glow into the coal black darkness. She was itching for a short hike to the falls, but Alex knew he’d have none of it. We’d driven through rain all the way from San Francisco to Yosemite, and he didn’t care to poke around looking for waterfalls at night. It was only six o’ clock, and the temperature was 40 degrees, dropping further. I understood his fear; I’ve felt it myself, but somehow the woods are reassuring to me, even in the pitch black of night, even with the sound of nearby cars reminding us of civilization.
I love being a mother, but I miss this part of my life in the age BC – before children came...
In a word: busy. We're closing in on Thanksgiving break and hearing from my college senior is an occasional text, a random phone call and maybe a quick email. That's all fine and good but a visual was really helpful. What seems to be common amongst seniors is that they are very focused on fulfilling all requirements, whether it's distribution requirements or reqs. for their major. They are meeting pretty regularly with their advisor.They are socializing alot, attending their "last"... full moon on the Quad, Big Game Gaieties, Big Game, water polo event, soccer game...They have brushed up their resumes, attended the "career fair" and have been going through various stages of interviews with various companies, feeling the agony of defeat when they don't make the final round or they don't get the job. Or feel positively elated when they land the job! Especially in this economy when so many of the companies that used to recruit on campus no longer come. They are truly burning the can...
When your kids are little, you work hard to establish ‘home rules.’ You know, things like, “Remember to flush the toilet” or “This is a family, so everyone has to pitch in and do chores.” Garbage day is Monday, the cat needs to be fed every day, if you can’t see your floor, it’s time to clean your room, etc.
Then, the day comes – more quickly than you can imagine – when your kid heads off to college. You (and your student) discover that there are now NEW rules…dorm rules, dining hall rules, new rules for friends, RA’s, professors. Suddenly, ‘home rules’ are obsolete.
But here’s the big secret: The real difference between Home Rules and School Rules is that at college there are NO rules.
No one to wake your kid up in the morning to make sure she gets to class. No one to oversee what or when he eats (or doesn’t eat). No one to check whether homework gets...
Has anyone ever asked you what you hope your children will be like when they grow up, and you reply, “It doesn’t matter, as long as they’re happy.” It sounds good to say, and heck, you probably mean it when you say it. I mean it when I say it, at least I think I do.
But then, I end up spending most of my time grooming them to be “the right kind of people” when they grow up and not a lot of time focused on making my kids happy. I’ve put a lot of effort into making them smart, healthy, athletic, attractive, savvy, and polite. I guess I always expected ‘happy’ to be a by-product of the rest. As if being the straight-A student will make my son happy. Or getting to the next level in ballet class will make my daughter happy. Hearing the grandparents tell them how good they are with their “please and thank yous” makes them happy.
It does to some degree because chil...
With films like Race to Nowhere hyping up parental hysteria about pressure, stress and competition, it's time to take a step back and consider what is REALLY important for our kids.
Think back to a time when your children were little, perhaps to when they were in preschool. What did they like? Dinosaurs? Polly Pocket dolls? Playing on the swings at the park? Super Mario Bros.?
Whatever, odds are that you can very clearly picture that child and his or her particular interests. You knew what they liked to do, what they liked to eat, what they liked to wear (or not wear). Bottom line, you KNEW your child.
And now you have a high schooler. What happened to that precious child, the one that could name all the dinosaurs or who loved the smell of rubber cement? The one who hated how socks felt on her feet? Or who waited for the sound of passing trains?
How well ...
When your first child leaves for college, there is a gaping hole in your life. The child that you so carefully cared for and natured for 18+ years is suddenly gone. When your second child leaves home, the loss is less severe, since you know what to expect.
When my youngest left for Stanford, I became a proverbial ‘empty nester.’ But, since we live just a baseball toss from the University, the change was more one of degree than substance. Somehow, the fact that home was just a few miles away meant that the separation (at least for me) did not carry the agony or grief of the first loss.
And then something begins to happen. The house that seemed preternaturally quiet without the thumping sounds of hip hop music, mad dashes out to school, friends coming and going, etc. suddenly seems…peaceful. I could sleep in past 6:45 am. I could watch what I wanted on TV. No more school lunches! And there was less laundry. Lots less ...
I had the opportunity to do some manly-man father-son bonding in June, when my wife Pamela reported that a big crunch at work over the whole summer was going to keep her in the office instead of on vacation somewhere with us. We decided to try to tackle the Bicycle Tour of Colorado, which is a week-long, fully supported bike tour for up to 1,500 riders. This year, the selected route amounted to 420 miles (and around 30,000 vertical feet of climbing!) to be covered in six days of riding, with a rest day included after the first four days. The big selling point for this year's route was that the Day 2 itinerary would take us up and over Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.
I like to think that over time, we are becoming more enlightened and embrace progress, which is why I usually roll my eyes when people resist change with the refrain of, “I grew up with…, and I turned out fine.” I grew up with asbestos ceilings, but I’m not going to knowingly put asbestos in my house, even if I think I turned out fine.
But every now and then, I do yearn to hearken back to bygone days of parenting, back when:
- It was OK to hit your kids. I’m not saying that I want to use my kids as punching bags and take my frustrations out on them. But I can’t argue with the effectiveness with an occasional spanking for serious offenses. For example, the other day, the kids snuck out during their afternoon nap and went into our exercise room, which they are not allowed in without adult supervision. It only takes the thought of a 10-pound weight dropped on a toddler’s fo...
When my son was four years old, he promised to live with me forever. Being that he was my first child, I took him at his word. And it didn’t occur to me that Thomas Wolfe might have had a point.
Now, some 20 years later, I’m finding that living at home forever might not be the best idea. For one thing, my kids have too much stuff. It all started innocently enough with our well-intentioned efforts to make sure that each child (one he, one she) started college life as well-equipped and comfortable as possible. A UC Berkeley dorm-regulation mattress? Ugh! That old desk in my daughter’s freshman dorm room in Stern Hall? Not! I remember those from my days in Larkin North…and that was many days ago.
This summer we have suffered ‘re-entry syndrome’ as one soon-to...
Kid shows are melting my brain. Some are definitely better than others: I love Sesame Street (which Sally knows, so she claims it is boring) and I enjoy Olivia. But most have these incredibly annoying repeated lines, or just types of lines that make me want to back over the flat screen with my car.
Bubble Guppies - "What time is it? It's time for lunch!"
These weird little mermaidy kids live in a world without physics, one of my pet kid show peeves. Though annoying, their lunch line has become embedded in the Batte family arsenal of quasi-witty comebacks.
Dora the Explorer - "Say MAP! LOUDER! SAY MAP!"
If ever given the chance, I will kill Dora.
Berenstain Bears - "Gosh, I didn't think of it that way."
The Berenstain kids are super-duper wholesome, yet somehow manage to spend 20 of the 22 minutes available to them teaching your kid how NOT to act. But you know what bothers me most ...
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