18 March 2007

Teach my children how?

    Raising children is an incredibly hard and risky business in which no cumulative wisdom is gained: each generation repeats the mistakes the previous one made.
      Bill Cosby

Friday morning I was checking to make sure my oldest had her homework folder. I found the cover of her spelling workbook was crumpled and torn. When I asked her what happened, she told me it got that way in her desk. I understood precisely, and imediately I had a vision of those little grammer school desks stuffed with a mess of papers, pencils, and who knows what else, all in complete disarray.

You can probably guess that the desk I envisioned was not my daughter's, but my own desk in grammar school. I couldn't tell you which grade precisely because my desk always looked that way. So did my locker. So, for that matter, does my desk at work now.

You could call this a manifestation the parent's curse Bill Cosby refers to in the classic Himself - we are cursed by parents who wish our children will be just like us. I think it's also something we all privately wish for anyway - a sin of vanity we can't avoid but will come back to haunt us. Either way, we're doomed to see in our children not only our best qualities, but our worst. It's the latter that gets you.

I feel like trying to convice her to be more organized, more outgoing, less nit-picky, or maybe a little neater is an exercise in futility. Nothing parents, teachers, peers, or complete strangers did rid me of these bad habits. Nearly forty (ack!) years later, I still haven't shaken off such tendencies. My garage workbench is still a disaster, my holiday shopping is still last-minute, letting go of an argument is like severing a limb, and I'm still hanging out in the corner of the crowd trying not to make eye contact.

I guess, like everything else with parenting, I shouldn't worry too much. These are the things that make us human, me and her. She's a great kid, they both are, and nothing compares to the joy they bring. A messy desk is a small price to pay for that.

1 comment:

tofu-powered art-chick said...

You mentioned that they are great kids, but you are also one of the best dad's ever & are truly deserving of the T-shirt! Nice is much more important than neat; "nice and neat" is a bonus, annoying, or a fluke, depending on the circumstances.