I don't mean to brag, but, I haven't been cussed out at work for over a week. To me, this means I'm doing a pretty good job. Amazing how things change when you lower your standards a bit.
My new job has forced me to confront the exact opposite segment of society that I was dealing with at the fancy, private high school the past few years. And I do mean opposite in every sense of the word: race, parent involvement, income, brands, language, test scores, which, by the way, are entirely predictable based on race in our country. Why is this? I am on a mission to figure it out. When I do, I'll let you know. Then I'll publish a book and earn millions of dollars. Because of course so many rich people are dying to buy a book that tells them how to fix the racial disparities in our country. I'm quite sure there would be a long line during the book signing. I'd certainly be interviewed by Bill O'Reilly, and of course Katie Couric, and I'd finally be able to afford those Frye boots I've been wanting for years. I digress into fantasy land.
I have one simple solution: pay attention to your kids.
I have a sneaking suspicion that it may just be THIS SIMPLE. Now, how to put that into chapters, I have yet to discover. But it may look something like this:
Chapter One: Feed them. Preferably healthy foods. At least not fast food. Most of the time.
Chapter Two: Talk to them. Often. Daily. Hourly, if you are in the same house.
Chapter Three: Read to them and with them. Go to the library. Often. And then talk about what they're reading instead of watching TV.
Chapter Four: Give them chores and responsibilities. And then have the balls and discipline to hold them accountable for them.
Chapter Five: Provide blank paper. And markers. Give them space to create.
Chapter Six: Put them to bed on time. And make them stay there.
Chapter Seven: Make them do their homework. Do it with them. Or at least be beside them.
Chapter Eight: Be interested in their life. For God's sake, don't have children if you can't do this part.
Chapter Nine: Hugs and kisses. Lots of them.
Chapter Ten: Pray. For wisdom and guidance and patience and joy.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that I fail at many of these. I am often guilty of letting my boys watch a flick so that I can sneak outside on my patio to have a smoke with my glass of wine. Yes. I do this.
But. I like to think that I do most of the things listed most of the time. And I do Chapter Ten every day.
I'm not claiming to have great kids or be the best parent (though I'm in contention every year for Parent of the Year, especially since watching my sister's six week old twins a few weeks ago and setting one on the couch to go to the other room to get the other one and then hearing a thump. She fired me.)
I'm just sayin, though. The kids I'm dealing with didn't get much of these much of the time. They're a hurting group of kids that has learned how to survive by inflicting their hurt on others. And I'm slowly figuring that out. Trying to love them and not be totally drained emotionally at the end of the day. But, honestly, it kind of sucks most of the time right now. My goal is to get to a place where it only hurts some of the time.