It’s an old adage that parents have a giant responsibility. The care and raising of children is not to be taken lightly. Children come into the world with magnanimously limited basic skills, and over the course of approximately eighteen years, they need to learn aspects of life such as crossing the street, tying their shoes and how to behave in public and if ever in the presence and interaction of law enforcement [sic]. And even those examples are only related to survival; there’s still hygiene, ethics, and introspection, to name a very few in an endless pursuit for the safety and security of your child(ren) and Adulting Training.

I’m what you would call an ‘old man’s baby’ because my parents were older, established, and fairly old-fashioned. My father was highly observant and analytical, and he didn’t  waste his words. There was an Eddie Murphy movie where he only had 10,000 words before he went mute. I remember watching that movie and thinking my father could have lived his entire 80 years and still have a few words left at the end. When and if he spoke, it was meaningful, even if you didn’t understand what he meant for a little while (but that’s a whole ‘nother story). He was charming and discrete, analyzing every contact and context. On the other hand,  I always have something to say. I’m gregarious and boisterous, talkative, and indiscreet. I would have run out of 10,000 words within a few months. My son, Master, has learned to straddle that fence in his 21 years.

Child Birth Order theory is an accepted and much-referenced benchmark in studies. However, the other side of the coin is parents’ ages. Three natural patterns emerge when you look at parental age brackets [12-28], [29-50] and [51-70]. Differing socioeconomic influences, expected personal/professional/financial development, and general setbacks/obstacles/trauma have major influences on parental priorities, care and maintenance, proposed ‘life lessons’ and survival techniques. Obviously, environment plays a role; however, how and what you learn is linked, in part, to the age and wisdom of the person doing the teaching and life circumstances and experiences. I had petty criticisms of my father’s child-rearing practices, although he was a good, conservative father who was always there; I spent most of my childhood determining what type of father I was going to be based on mainly what I didn’t like about my father, but also several things I love about him. He was 46 1/2 when I was born, well into a good blue collar career, and lived through so much history and seemingly insurmountable challenges. 

I’m the cool parent. The hardworking, driven, Generation X don dada. I became a {step} father at 22 and Master was born when I was 24. My youngest, President, was born when I was 33 1/2. Against the intense advice of my homies, I remain open to the possibility of maybe one more child (I’m still a year and a half younger than my father was when I was born!). I’m no disciplinarian, and I want to have experiences with them that I could not have with my father. I want to talk too much to them, preach, fuss, cuss, laugh, teach, debate, discuss and discover with them. Whether we were sleeping in the car, a presidential suite, or partying on the top two floors of a swanky Santa Monica hotel overlooking the pier, my children are exposed, expectant and extremely emotional at times [see spoiled]. And I indulge them, encourage them and excuse their indiscretions. We listen to inappropriate music, bag on people, find the weirdest things funny, go to some major concerts, ride rollercoasters and plan kick-it trips. I was the fun-loving, young at heart, silly fourth child in my marriage (ref. a person who is an oldest  child marrying a person who is the youngest child).

Can we teach them everything? No. It takes a village, a dozen teachers, a few good doctors, pastors, yogis and palm readers, extended family and adult role models, a partridge in a pear tree, et al. Particularly in this social media age of technological advances and electronic dependence where there is no way cover all the bases. Experience, exposure and education are the best teachers. The best we can do is what our parents did before us and theirs before them and so on ad infinitum: reinforce the most important priorities [subjective] and be astute at parenting on the fly. Shit gets real really quickly. How often did we hear, “wait until you have kids, they’re going to do the same thing to you,” and we scoffed. Touché les parents.

Advertisements