With Parenting, There’s Always Something!

What has surprised you lately about parenting?
The other evening, my son said, “I need a cape for social studies tomorrow!”

The stores were closed. We didn’t have a cape. I wanted to ask, “How long have you known about this?” but I bit my tongue and decided to make the situation a cape-finding adventure.

I would have called some friends who might have had a cape, but that option was out since it was so late in the evening. So I suggested my son use a black bath towel and a clothespin.

Nope. Too heavy for the backpack. The clothespin was too tacky.

I asked my son for ideas. He shrugged and walked away. I went over to him and told him that this was his problem, not mine. I also said I would be willing to help him, if he wanted my help. He sighed and said he did.

Then I remembered the black sheets that my other son had. The first miracle was that it was easy to find. The second miracle was that it was clean. The third miracle was that my son thought that using the flat sheet was a good solution. We then used a binder clip to fasten it, and my son made a colorful emblem for his chest.

With parenting, there’s always something. You never know what’s going to happen each day (even when you plan well and try to anticipate what could happen). That’s part of the art of parenting well: to be able to think creatively and strategically while under pressure.

Another part of the art is to know who else is on your team. It’s easier to know what to do if you have other trusted adults to bounce ideas off of—and other adults to go to for help. When one of my teenagers went through a three-year period of not talking much to me or his dad, I often would call my sister or a neighbor (whom my son absolutely adored). They were always happy to take out my son to grab a hot chocolate or an ice cream. I never knew what they talked about, but these other adults always reassured me that my son was doing well. (That’s what I was hoping, but sometimes you’re not sure when teenagers start to separate from you.)

The other day my other son panicked because he didn’t know where his cell phone was. We did the calling trick, phoning his number while walking around the house listening for a ringing cell phone. But the house was quiet. Too quiet.

The next day, we discovered the cell phone in the back seat of our car. It had fallen out of his pocket.

A few days later, at 11 o’clock at night, the neighbor who lived behind us e-mailed me to tell me that our large garage door had been left open. I immediately thought of which kid to blame—until I realized I was the one who had left it up.

With parenting, it’s always something.

What has surprised you lately about parenting?

*Blog Image Via NYCArthur’s Flick’r photostream.