With all the peaks and valleys of emotion, rivers of tears, mountains out of mole hill’s, parenting is just like a map. Or more like several maps, one on top of the other. The top layer is the map of your child, the one underneath, is your map, the one under that belongs to your parents, the one under that, to your grandparents, and so on. There are many similarities in the topography, and there are scars of pins placed long ago. Every decision we make as parents, is a direct reaction to whatever maps and pins came before us. Mostly our parenting choices are a combination of “I do this because it’s how I was brought up,” or “I always hated this, so I’m doing things differently with my family.” There’s also that question of how much you inform your kids of why you react the way you do to certain events in their lives. For example, when my son’s teacher sent an email informing me that he had tanked his geography test, many feelings came up. First, I was horrified that he could have done so badly and he needed to be reprimanded and made to study. Then I experienced panic, because I was immediately thrust back in to Mr. Cernicek’s 8th grade geography class and him yelling at me and sending me out of the room because I confused the Euphrates River with some other river nearby it. Then I felt empathy for my son, because I too, suffered from geography-itis. That’s when, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t keep all those countries, let alone states, straight in your head. Look it up! (Ok, don’t, because I made it up, but I know you know what I mean.) Then I was filled with fear and confusion, because how was I supposed to punish my son for something I, in fact, had been guilty of when I was a child? Do I excuse the behavior simply because I could relate to it? My oldest had the wonderful gift of gestating during my stint in talk radio. So for hours on end he listened to me blabbing, with no escape because he was prisoner in my womb. When his teachers started to tell me that he spent way too much time talking in class, I was eager to take the blame! I apologized regularly and said it was clearly my fault because I am a talker. They would laugh it off, and then handle him accordingly. Wait! That’s it!! I can be the good guy here and blame the teacher, and the geography. I can simply tell my son that I get it, and that I had a hard time with geography too, and that all he needs to do is show me and the teacher that he’s making an effort to do better and whatever happens becomes just another teeny mountain on his map! He will either climb over it, or like me, always remember that it was a peak I never could quite approach. My map is made up of many peaks, some that I have conquered, some that I still climb, and some that I work very hard to forget. I know that my map, will inform the maps of my children and grandchildren, and I am glad that it spans a wide berth. I hope to continue adding pins for many years to come and witness my boys charting their own territories.
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