Tuesday, May 22, 2012
On Their Own
Wait. No... I have several cardinal rules for parenting...
Hrm. Okay, actually I have bazillions of cardinal rules for parenting.
One of our hard and fast parenting rules pertains to 'helicoptering' or the avoidance thereof. DrC and I try so hard not to hover that we have achieved a state of zen subterraneanism. The manner in which our children venture forth into the world completely unguarded from the various slings and arrows of outraged Other Folk can and has been described as neglect. I prefer to think of it as creative unobstructionism.
While cruising, it is easy to forget how unusual we are because we literally swim in a sea of corner-case people. It is also true that the cruising community might well be the most supportive place in the world to raise children. In the absence of winged parents, the girls have spent years with cruisers in all shapes and sizes who want nothing more than to see them to a better place physically, emotionally, and educationally. Maybe small towns are like this, maybe communes. Hard to say. I just know that DrC and I -- never mind our daughters -- owe an exceptional debt of gratitude to the amazing people who raised the girls with us and who continue to support them.
Which is all to provide context for the oddly Rut Roh! quality of the week. The first hint that we're not the average North Shore family came in the form of an email from one of the girls' deans.
"Your child missed a day of class without a note and was late for two more. She says she has trouble catching the bus in the morning. Would you please write said child a note and help her get on the bus?"
"No really. Her problem. What's your policy for such things?"
"Great. Go for it."
"No help for the bus?"
The child in question immediately stepped up to the plate. "Yeah, I screwed up. Yeah, I'll do detention. Yeah, I'm sorry. No, I won't do it again." She's now talking about staying every day after school for an hour in a self-imposed detention since it appears to be the best way to force herself to sit down and master physics. I don't know how much of that I believe, but I do know that she wasn't surprised that we wouldn't defend and protect her. We're not Uncle Sam. Her mistakes, her responsibility, and her job to fix it. And honestly? This child isn't a child any more. She's a very smart young woman who is making her own choices. Some of those appear in the short run to be surprisingly bone-headed while others are so smart they make my eyes water. Ultimately, I am positive she is going to be just fine, assuming we don't all kill each other before we get her off on her own. And if she's making decisions now that mean life will be tougher in the future, she gives every appearance of understanding the trade-off.
Another befuddling problem is the fact that every single person who interacts with the girls appears to think DrC and I give a damn about their scheduling commitments. I really don't care if they have a meeting, netball practice, rehearsal, or spray tan appointment. The sole service I am willing to provide is to add the events to the family calendar and print it once a week. As soon as the home network gets set up (please let those pay checks start to roll in!), I won't even do that. If paid, I will taxi them around town. You think I'm joking. Every month the girls get a bus allowance. If they want me to drive them because the skies are falling -- and in Auckland this is actually a literal weather condition "Skies Falling" -- then they pay me $1.10/person. I'm just about ready to route all the school notification spam to /dev/null.
So no, Dean Good Guy, we're not going to rescue her. No Director Great Show, we're not going to hold her hand and make her little sandwiches. No Coach Energetic, we don't plan on driving her to morning practice. We suck. Fortunately, the girls don't, so don't worry about it too much. They'll get there.