Monday, April 30, 2012

100 Things All Parents Should Teach Their Children: Part 1

I like to go into anything I do with a certain level of preparation.

When I make large purchases, I usually read consumer reports, online reviews, compare the pros and cons of pretty much every little aspect of the device and then, finally, make my (totally well-informed!!) decision.  Personally, I don't see any difference between parenthood and making a large purchase... okay, so there are roughly a million differences, but what I mean to say is parenthood is like entering into a constant stream of research before making countless (totally well-informed??) decisions.

One thing I find myself researching fairly regularly: What sorts of things should I be sure to teach you in the short 18 years that I have your undivided attention?  This prompts Google searches like, "What should mothers teach their daughters?" or "What do good parents teach their kids?" or "How best to NOT gloss over the important learning opportunities when you're super busy getting chewing gum out of your kids hair?"  Google may not be good for everything (like ACTUAL scholarly research.  As a Research Help Desk professional, your mama will lose her gourd if she catches you citing Google or Wikipedia on ANYTHING!), but Google is good at one thing: opinions.  

And that's the thing... the lists of things you should do as a parent to ensure you've taught your child everything they need to know is merely someone else's opinion.  There is no right or wrong "list" of things to impart on your child, but it can seem overwhelming when considering where you could possibly begin?  I assume as things "pop up" throughout the years we will make every effort to turn these surprises into learning opportunities, but until then, Google actually helped me out a bit by leading me to a blog with a list I actually liked of the 100 things all parents should teach their children!  I'm going to spend the next couple of weeks (or longer if I take a break here and there) outlining these magical 100 things and my own personal opinion on each thing.  

Without further ado: Items 100-91 of the 100 things all parents should teach their children!

100. Listen: I started from the top and I'm working my way back down to number one because number one hundred was the word LISTEN.  Honestly, this may be the most important thing on the entire list.  It can mean many things!  It can mean that we, as awesome parents, must cultivate the habit of listening to you, our beloved daughter.  It can mean that you, our beloved daughter, must cultivate the habit of listening to us, your awesome parents.  It can also mean that you, our beloved daughter, must cultivate the habit of listening to YOURSELF when you know something is amiss in a situation or if you hear opportunities knocking that you simply must not pass up!  Lastly, it can mean listening to your environment and taking everything in before you make important decisions.  Regardless of who is doing the listening and who is being listened to, listening is a VERY important skill.  If your mouth is going constantly, your ability to listen will be impaired.  Know when to be quiet and listen!

99. Look on the bright side:  Your mama is a total "glass half full" kind of optimist.  I try to take sour lemons and make delightful lemonade out of nearly every situation.  It's so bad that your dad, likely, gets really annoyed at my implications that things aren't nearly as bad as they seem (when sometimes they certainly are).  The thing is, I'm proud of that view of things.  As I said before, I will never be disappointed in you if any number of things don't turn out the way either of us want them to, but I will be disappointed if you have a bad attitude about it or you give up.  You can make your own happiness in life simply by choosing to behave a certain way in the face of adversity.  You can be that person everyone looks to for comfort and a drop of sunshine or you can be that person that people don't even want to be around when times are at their best (and every place in the spectrum between).  Make a conscious decision to look on the bright side and things won't seem as bad as they could be.

98. Pick a piece of fruit that's ripe:  This seems odd to include on the list, but if you're going to make better food decisions than either your father or I did at a young age, you need to be sure you know how to find a ripe piece of fruit to eat!  Truly wonderful ripe fruits are one of the greatest things about our lovely planet!  A juicy ripe peach is better than eating candy on a hot summer day!  A perfectly ripe banana is a wonderful complex set of flavors!  Getting the perfect avocado can make or break your awesome sandwich!  Since you're going to do a TON of the grocery shopping with me, you will learn what to look for, listen for, and smell for when choosing pieces of fruit to buy.  It will be fun AND delicious!

97. Pitch a tent: Luckily you won't have to make the same mistake your mama made the first time she attempted to pitch a tent by herself... when it was practically already dark outside!  PLAN AHEAD WHEN CAMPING!  You want to be at your campsite early in the day!  Pitching a tent is more than just the know-how of setting the thing up.  You'll need to do things like: check the terrain, which way is the wind blowing?, how close do you want to build the fire?, etc.  Then, you'll need to know how to take it all down and shove it back in that tiny little bag it came from until you need it again!  Don't worry, we'll go camping often enough to ensure your place as the alpha-female among your friends!

96. Bake a cake:  Your mama doesn't know everything there is to know, but she knows how to bake!  We will do all sorts of baking together and you will learn why it is important to follow baking recipes, except when it isn't!  Experimentation is half of the fun when you're in the kitchen!

95. Use a fire extinguisher: We have them throughout the house in various places.  They are not toys, but you need to play around with one at some point so you know how to use it.  How many other kids do you know who will get the opportunity to empty an entire fire extinguisher?  Not nearly enough, I'd say!  Heck, I haven't even done that!  How does anyone expect to automatically be good at something like that if they haven't had the means to practice it?  Well, someday when you're old enough we will do that very thing... probably while we're out camping and need to put out the raging bonfire your dad built!

94. Parallel park with ease: This is another thing your mama excels at!  When I lived in the Scholarship Halls on campus we ONLY had parallel parking.  Not only that, they oversold our parking permits so we often had to fight each other arena-style to get any sort of parking.  Those with tiny compact cars, like mine, got REALLY good at shoving them in the smallest of spaces left by people who "stupid parked" their land yachts.  Any parallel parking job can be done with a three-point turn.  Learning how to instinctively calculate your parking geometry comes with practice.  Mark my words, when you are of driving age you will do a LOT of parallel parking practice.  You will do it until I'm happy with it and my bar is set REALLY high.  You want that driving permit?  Fine.  This is what you have to prove to me before you get the real thing because it is one of the hardest aspects of driving to master.  If you can do it while snatching the pebble from my hand at the same time, you will truly be the Parking Kung-Fu master! (Just kidding, keep your eyes on the damn road!)

93. Change a flat tire:  My answer to this may surprise you... I have a very hard time changing flat tires by myself.  The reason? Even though I know my way around a car and know HOW to change a flat, it's made a lot harder by the use of those air guns on the lug nuts at mechanic's shops when you go to get your tires rotated (or if they have to pull the wheels to check for other issues).  I've had problems in the past getting the lug nuts to break by even JUMPING on the tire iron!  I will teach you how to change a tire because it is important to know how to do it, but I will also teach you how to flag down help if you're having a problem with the lug nuts (it's called "calling the tow truck companies on your super holographic smart phone and seeing if someone could come and assist you if neither of us are near enough to help.")  You can totally charge it to our credit card if they make you pay... just as long as you're safe and sound!

92. Drive a stick shift:  I can drive a stick shift, I'm just not good at it.  It takes a certain level of practice to figure out the finesse to shift your car without grinding the gears.  Also, you'll need to practice the delicate art of lowering and lifting your left and right feet so as to apply proper pressure to the clutch and the gas/brakes at any given time.  None of these things are things I am good at, sadly.  BUT, your Uncle J knows a thing or two about shifting so if I ever get over my distrust of him teaching you terrible things, I may make him help out on this one... or not... because he's a really bad influence!

91. Parallel park: Ha!  It's so important they put it on the list TWICE!  Honestly, you won't be the scourge of the streets if you don't parallel park perfectly, but you will double your chances of finding a really good parking spot if you do know how to do it.  You'd be surprised the number of people I've been with who will pass up a perfectly good parking spot simply because they don't want to run the risk of embarrassing themselves with their lack of parallel parking skills.  I've even gotten out of the car and done it for them.  Don't be like that.  Learn how to do it properly!

(to be continued)

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