Messing Up

If I have learned anything in my 18 short years of parenting, it is that I have no idea what I am doing. And so, when I recently came across an article titled “Parents: You’re Doing it All Wrong,” well, I guess I was relieved. I am not alone in my failure.

This guy, Leonard Sax, wrote a book called The Collapse of Parenting, and in his best seller, he outlines exactly how we are messing up. I Googled Mr. Sax. Because I need to know if he is a father, if he has any children of his own. And, if he does,  I wonder if he is doing it all wrong too. Or if it is just the rest of us.

I can find no mention of a Sax family. Either Leonard is hiding those darling offspring or he figures the best way to do it right is to not do it at all. I don’t know.

I love parenting books. And I might like this one, too. I simply can’t get past the title. I mean after all our hard work, Mr. Sax, honestly? The Collapse? But, hey, I’ve been told more than once by my own sons that I haven’t a clue, maybe Mr. Sax has got a point.

So, in review, here are the highlights of my parental screw ups:

  1. I listened to Dr. Ferber, that other doctor we all believed back then. I let my first baby cry and cry and cry, waiting for him to learn to put himself to sleep. He didn’t. Luckily, common sense intervened.
  2. I didn’t make them finish their broccoli. Well, sometimes I did, but mostly, no. Instead, I rationalized that if I denied them broccoli, someday they might crave it.
  3. I have used colorful language to every son and about every son, more than once. It has given me a feeling of great satisfaction. I have no plan to quit.
  4. One time, I told my 10 year old that if that fifth grade bully didn’t leave him alone, I would take matters into my own hands. I described how I would find that bully alone and punch him on the arm until he screamed Hurtz Donut. My son reasoned with me. The bully remained unharmed.
  5. I have let at least one son be tardy for school because we were watching a Star Wars movie until late at night and he didn’t have time to do his homework.
  6. When their dad travels, sometimes the boys and I have ice cream for dinner. And for dessert, too.
  7. Even when they make their own beds, I re-make them. To be sure they are just right.
  8. None of my sons knows how to use the washing machine. And also, they think cooking their own dinner is warming up Bagel Bites in the toaster oven.
  9. I more-than-helped my oldest son write his college essay. I was extremely proud of the result.
  10. Once, when my youngest son complained of a belly ache and didn’t want to go to school, I accused him of faking it. Until he projectile vomited all over the grocery store. I didn’t clean it up, either.
  11. I have had evil thoughts about every coach who has not recognized my son’s raw athletic talent and played him in the number one spot.
  12. If I am reading a really good book, I have no idea what is going on in the rest of the house. I suspect it is mostly video games.
  13. Sometimes I participate in their wrestling matches. Which is probably weird for a middle aged mother of teenaged sons. I have yet to pin one of them, regardless of how dirty I fight.
  14. I read many parenting books and attend many parenting lectures. But I am a slow learner and rarely follow through on the very helpful tips.
  15. I tell my sons I have no idea what I am doing. Often. More than once, I have completely changed my stance on an issue because of a better argument made by a boy less than half my age.

And so, Mr. Leonard Sax, I guess I could be doing it all wrong. But at least I’m having fun. Most of the time.  And I hope that if there is a loud and messy clan of Sax sons or daughters, you enjoy raising them as much as I enjoy raising mine. Regardless of how you are doing it, I’m sure your intentions are all right.

I wouldn’t change a thing. Except maybe the broccoli eating.

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