I think of parenting and
words like beautiful, hard, tasking, sloppy, kisses, cuddles, taxing, rewarding, sacrifice, sleeplessness, guide, hugs, guard, tough love, etc comes to mind.
One hard fact that I have come to realize in the few years since I became employed as a parent is that the job description is a not-clearly-defined, not-ending list of to-dos with no handbook included as part of the employment package.
The other truth, from my view point is that unless there is a special factory where perfectly crafted prototypes can be turned into 100% real life-obedient-non-wandering-angelic versions of the objects of our sweet dreams, then nothing is given or granted.
We have to wake up at some point to face the realities of our responsibilities.
I am talking about parenting and kids in case I lost you back there.
Where parenting is concerned, rules are made and boundaries are set but these vary from parent to parent because we differ
from orientation to orientation and our kids differ mischief to mischief.
Not to risk running foul of generalization, some toddlers / young children could be very unpredictable regardless of the long hours of loving services that go into setting / enforcing above mentioned rules and boundaries.
One minute, they are all docile, obedient, rosy-cheeked bundles of sweetness and the next, they have turned into mini terrorists -and you are yet to even blink from the rose-tinted moments of bliss.
I know we have perfect parents who get it right, the first time and every time. Maybe you are one.
You nurture, train and discipline in love and they obey, without blinking or asking one million and one questions on why they have to do your bidding at that moment.
And you end up or start out with perfect, very well behaved kids who would not go out of line, within and without. Every time. Okay, maybe not every time.
I say you are one very terrific parent who deserves some shiny medals and trophies for that laudable achievement (no sarcasm…no kidding).
Because around you, I imagine and assume there are no chaos and words like:
Do not: throw stones, point at strangers, eat sloppily, eat with food in your mouth, shout, talk so loudly, bully, pick things from the floor, put stuffs in your mouth, play rough etc..
Do: your homework now, eat your fruits and veggies, put your shoes away, Clean up your room..
…are all taken pretty seriously and obeyed the first time and every time, with no fuss.
I would love to know the secret to your success. Just for the sake of knowing though. Because, just like you, I am forging my own path.
We all must forge our own path on this parenting adventure, no path is sure and no two paths are exactly the same even though we are free to learn from one another compasses.
One thing that is clear from the eyes of an imperfect parent whose kids sometimes go out of line is this: Mistakes are a given.
Talking about mistakes, they do have degrees. Some are minor and you are able to quickly rebound and all is well with the world again.
But some mistakes are not so forgiving, they sneak up on you – with the consequences in tow – at the least expected times, slamming you in the midsection in your unprepared state.
God help you if the whole world is watching.
Like Isiah’s mum and Yamato’s parents who became torch bearers for the ‘association of less-than-perfect parents’, gracing the web billboard the whole of last week.
If you own an internet-enabled gadget or a TV set, you would have seen over and over again the stories of the mother in Cincinnati who took her eyes off her toddler briefly and he ended up in a Gorilla’s enclosure and the story of the Japanese parents who left their young son in a bush (just to teach him a lesson that throwing stones bring dire consequences).
Both are parenting misadventures that truly left jitters dancing up and down our collective spines all through last week.
Those are truly stuffs nightmares are made of.
As far as endings go, f
ortunately and unfortunately the boy escaped unharmed while the Gorilla -Harambe had to die and the young boy abandoned by his parent was found safe but hungry after 6 days alone in a bush reputed to have bears on the prowl.
I had never been
unfortunate distracted enough to lose my boys at anytime and when they err, more reasonable forms of punishment are favored.
But tell you what, I sure am guilty of the taking my eyes off part
and doing short sprints after one or both at shopping malls and though I never made good my threat yet, I had threatened -a couple of times to pull over and drop either or both of the boys by the roadside to complete their journey on foot if they didn’t stop crying unnecessarily or fighting themselves or some other mischief on the way to /from school.
Really, anyone who had been within a few meters of an hyper-active toddler before would agree that one or two seconds is really all the time it takes to escape the clutches of a
fatigued distracted parent and slip into a gorilla moat or smear paint all over the living room wall or dunk a large box of detergent in a small bowl of water just for ‘scientific’ purposes or design their own bodies with permanent markers.
A part of me considers the mum as being a tad neglectful probably due to being overwhelmed and the boy’s parents as being too strict and extreme in their choice of discipline but the thing is anybody could easily fit into the toddler’s mum or the young boy’s parents description.
But what do I know considering that I had never watched over more than four kids at a time and my boys have never thrown anything other than balls
when we’re together.
I do have a strong feeling that on this parenting adventure, you never can tell what each chapter holds in advance and I had long been converted to Team NSN: Never Say Never.
Such is the strength of my conviction- I believe stuffs we don’t plan for have a way of happening, pleasant as well as unpleasant. Mistakes occur. Mindsets change. People change.
May I announce that the only side I am taking in all of these is my side of the screen. Not that side-taking or jury-playing is within anybody’s purview in my honest opinion.
As much as I cringed at the happenings and longed to give both parents a few pieces of unsolicited
lashings advises, a part of me still empathizes with them just because things happen in life. Shit goes through the roof, you lose it for a brief moment.
And ‘losing it’ is not the exclusive right of tag-wearing parents. Nope. Anyone is capable of losing it at anytime.
Like the young boy’s parents.
Or maybe theirs was a bit of costly parenting misadventure in disciplining a naughty and disobedient boy. Just like the zoo adventure turned into a little terror-inducing misadventure.
Parenting and mistakes are NOT mutually exclusive.
Both set of parents had their moments and unfortunate as those moments were, they had the further misfortune of having them in full public glare thereby ending up as fodder for armchair analysts for one full week.
We all definitely had our fill of pitching tents for and against.
I do not even want to dwell too much on the results at the other end of the spectrum of these parenting misadventures.
Harambe, who by the way was no humane child minder could have unintentionally dashed that toddler against a rock, fatally wounding or killing him and his actions would have been very normal, okay, alright, justified. Or by a stroke of luck, he could have protected him like a father would a son.
No one would know for sure.
One or two wandering bears could have made a feast out of that young boy- Yamato in the bush or he could have died of dehydration and / or cold. God forbid.
But from someone who had abandoned her offspring for a few minutes previously (to cry it off), it definitely is a tough call.
I remember Some 7+ years ago.
We all know being a first time mom is challenging enough, now consider being alone in a house, battling
some form of post-natal-depression with a crying-round-the-clock baby, no help in sight, deep cervical lacerations that made walking or rational thinking difficult and which required 2-month worth of long scalding sitz baths. I remember how it was as a first time mum.
I also remember being a second time helpless mom with two young ones
under the age of 3, hubby away from home, no help, still working full time and trying to get a second degree
Now that I look back, one is officially allowed to cope anyhow under such circumstances. So long as no bodily or emotional harm is left in the wake of the coping’
No one would ever know how it feels but I know I felt at a time like running away from those little ones, far away and I also remember being highly-strung and frustrated at a point that I accidentally flung one away from me. Thankfully, we came out of those periods unhurt. Unmarked.
Maybe that has contributed to a great change in perspective on certain issues, particularly maternal / parenting / mental issues, making me to always go easy on the blame game.
Some other parents would cope differently because we are wired differently but I dare say that whatever happens in those unguarded moments does not make me or you any less of a loving or good parent. We may however have no other option than to live with the nightmarish consequences of those brief moments forever.
These are just a few of the millions of scary scenarios in parenting misadventure that puts a huge question mark on our parenting skills.
The comments and commentary in the aftermath of the unpleasant incidences are as scary as they have been entertaining. I read comments about how the young boy’s parents should also be ‘put down’ because Harambe was killed, how they should be charged, how Yamato’s parents are unfit as parents and the boy should be taken from them, etc etc.
The truth is, regardless of the emotions running high on both
the pro and con sides, 99.9% of us probably do not know what we are truly capable of doing in our ‘moments’ of misadventures. We will never know how we’d respond or know what it really feels like until we get there.
Hopefully, some of us would never experience those kind of scary scenarios, first hand.
Take your eyes off your kid for a second and the whole world comes crashing through the enclosure of a gorilla. Or even threaten your kid with abandonment for a minute and you get tormented for a lifetime.
Seriously, I don’t believe anybody in their right mind would set out to have their kid(s) fall into a silverback Gorilla’s cage or be abandoned in a lonely bush as a punishment for six days (in order to be maimed or killed or to learn survival or swimming skills or to get into the pages of newspapers for one week).
The fact that they fell short in the eyes of the world drives home the point that both set of parents need to ‘up’ their parenting game..
- Pay more attention to kids when out and about or stay indoors..
- Be present…be aware..
- Parent with love…nurture, discipline with love..
- Mete out age appropriate
realisticpunishments..(pranks, indiscipline,etc do not attract death sentence or exile).
Like me. Like every other imperfect parent out there. We all need to do more.
On a lighter note, one thing that came out of the abandoned-in-the-bush parenting misadventures is that Yamato is going to be taking his parents very serious henceforth, enough to know that when they say they’ll pull over and leave him for bears to adopt, they might just make good their threat.
The little man will definitely not be throwing stones in a long while, neither should we.
Something also tells me the toddler’s family is going nowhere near a zoo anytime soon.