Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Manual, Anyone?

Being a self-professed scrounger/thrift shop goddess, I am accustomed to things coming my way sans manual or instruction sheet. Even when things come from a real retail store, and you don't actually get around to reading the enclosed booklet, its still reassuring to know that you have it.

Not so with offspring.

I was reading Heather's post this morning, and nodding my head vigorously. ("fumbling for words", friggin hyperlink won't cooperate) We make zillions of decisions daily affecting our childrens' present and future. Should we work more hours so they can have some half decent clothes and take a few lessons? or does that mean we've bought into a Western notion of child rearing, and we're totally missing the point? Should I insist that the children eat what I cook, or focus on making meal times pleasant and turn a blind eye about fifty five times a day? Will they grow up unhealthy? But if I turn it into a power struggle will they grow up to be neurotic, hating their bodies, obsessing about their sizes?

Children do not come with instructions. Complicate that with the fact that no matter how many times you procreate, every single child will break the previous mold. What "works" for one may be damaging to the other. Complicate it further with the fact that no matter how "grown up" we mommies and daddies appear, we are all still growing. We don't hold all the answers. We make mistakes. Every. day.

I started apologizing to my firstborn when she was a wee babe in the crib. I knew enough to recognize that humility would be a key ingredient. Still, I've been at it for over 12 years now, and I can't tell you how many times I've shouted out--

"Isn't it about time for a mid-term exam or an evaluation, or SOMETHING?!"
Its at this point that my brother-in-law calmly advises me to simply put an extra $100.00 in the kids therapy fund. This only exacerbates the angst. FUNDS? Holy macaroli! Another area of FAILURE!

If you are hoping I am going to wrap this up with some really touchy feely advice about living in the moment, just doing your best, or my favourite: "Just ENJOY them, they grow up so FAST"! I'm sorry that I will have to disappoint you. Sure they grow up fast. That's the point, isn't it? By the time I figure out a few things about parenting, they'll be horizontal on the proverbial couch of overpriced counsel.

Yup, I've had lots of experience with missing manuals. With the bread machine, I did my best guessing with flour and yeast,a bit of hydro and a splash of milk. Even the cats looked frightened. After dark I reluctantly slunk back to the charity shop (that's what they call it in the UK, and I just think its adorable, so humour me) and dumped the instruction-free thing back into the donation box.

I've tried it with the kids, but they keep following me home.


David said...

A great post. Thank you for sharing.

Roo said...

love this post.
exactly my my short walk of mothering.
i stopped reading before she was born. every book seemed to contradict the next book. and i am not in need of more things to confuddle my brain. !!

Anonymous said...

I prayed a lot. "Please save them from emotional damage."
You made me laugh again. I loved the part about the kids following you home. Laura

esther said...

joyce you are SO funny...i love how you use your words!!!

ps. i'm glad i was just paranoid - thank you for your comment.

Heather Plett said...

Too funny! Yeah, mine keep showing up back in my house too. And unlike the bread maker, you don't have to plug them in to end up with a mess!

Every once in awhile, it dawns on me "what the heck! My parents really DIDN'T know what they were talking about! And all this time, I thought they did."

andrea said...

How true. But what happens when their teachers or coaches also don't come with instruction manuals? I can handle whatever happens under my own roof but it's a nasty world out there sometimes.
This week I really hate it.

joyce said...

hey David- thanks for coming by!
Ruth- that is the most sensible thing I have ever heard a mother say.
Laura-- I think yours turned out pretty good!
Esther- thanks
Heather- it still freaks me out that my parents had eight of us without ever having intercourse. I'm SURE they never did.
Andrea--I'm so sorry.

Bobita said...

Great post! I'm almost always operating without a manual! I sometimes think that the best form of birth control for anyone would be to visit my house at 7:15am or at 4:30pm...nothing but chaos! There is no manual on earth that could give me good (or even adequate!) instructions as to how I might maintain order during the "peak parenting times!" Unless the manual included something about binding and gagging!

Bobita said...

I don't have your email, so I hope you don't mind that I am leaving this on your blog...but I would love to speak with you about the idea you mentioned on my blog about "bags for Darfur." I have something in the works and would love it if I could explore this idea further with you.
Email if you would like:

Romeo Morningwood said...

Once your kids get on the 'school conveyor belt' the time machine whisks them away at warp 9.
I still cannot believe that I have two kids in University..what?

I feel so lucky to be here with Mr Drama, he is 5 (I keep telling him to save the drama for his mama) and I have enjoyed the opportunity to see how many mistakes I have made in the past... that I am still making.

Oh well despite my best efforts they have all turned out to be fantastic. WHO KNEW?

WithinWithout said...

I figure why make life a battle? Feed them what they know they want, within reason.

They won't be unhealthy...they'll be happy and learn their individuality is more important than the rigid need for rules.

Anonymous said...

Whenever my kids give me a hard time I tell them that I will help them pay for their therapy. Heck, I know what they'll say in therapy!