Sunday, September 27, 2009

Head and Shoulder, Keys and So It Goes . . .

Anyone who has raised children knows that parenting is not for the weak hearted. Worrying starts from . . .well, the day of conception. Am I eating right? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I gaining too much weight? Am I gaining enough weight? Should I listen to Bach or Wagner? And so on. Every decision you make now affects someone in addition to yourself. Needless to say, pregnancy is a stressful time. And, it doesn’t get any better once the little darling is born. The worries just change a little. Is he or she eating right? Getting enough sleep? Gaining enough weight? Gaining too little weight? Listening to too much Baby Einstein?

Worrying done in these early months is simply practice for the next eighteen years and beyond. The first time you leave a baby with a babysitter is preparation for the day you send them to kindergarten and leave them in a college dorm. The bumps and bruises earned while negotiating those first steps make the battle scars from falling out of trees and those rough sports games easier to handle. The first broken bone makes the second,, third and fourth seem like a piece of cake. The first few yards on a bike with training wheels foreshadow those first few miles with a learner’s permit. And taking those training wheels off is almost as scary as the day the driver’s license is issued.

For those of us who have been in the parenting game from day one, there has been lots of practice and many trial runs for the teenaged years. I can’t imagine walking into to all of this in the midst of the quest for teenaged independence. That is exactly what Weber did. He has handled it much better than I think that I would have if our roles had been reversed!

Essentially, he came into our lives at the point that Erin got her learner’s permit. So there he is with a child he doesn’t know very well who wants to drive. It is bad enough that he is being asked to risk life and limb with a “green” driver. To top it all off, because I couldn’t drive, he became the responsible parental figure. And did I mention he willingly let her drive his car? He and Erin were fine. (I think.) I was a nervous wreck!

Then there are all the questions. The one that every parent dreads, “Where do babies come from?”, is nothing compared to the ones that Erin comes up with. At least that one has a matter of fact answer. “Why are boys such douche bags?”, “Why are there so many stupid people in the world?”, or “Is it OK if Jesus and I have a trial separation?” require the ability to think quickly and refrain from giving said teenager any satisfaction from shock value.

Then there was the night that she proclaimed at the dinner table that she thought that every male should be kicked in the groin once a month in solidarity with all the women of the world. Hmm . . .not such a bad idea.

Now she is in the midst of applying to college. Erin, Weber and I have been to college nights for the schools that Erin is considering. No matter what they say, the seemingly endless lists of school supplies that I have been buying for the last twelve years or more in no way prepares you for paying for college. They won’t take crayons and Kleenex in lieu of a tuition check.

In many ways Weber is in a difficult place – taking a parental role without overstepping any boundaries. Everyone seems to be handling that well. Life around here is a true testament to what caring and loving relationships are all about. Weber promised Erin that he did not want to get in the way of her relationship with her dad but that he would always be there for her, a shoulder to lean on. And he has kept his promise.