The Boy's elementary school holds a grade-level picnic every year. Last year, Super Ninja went, so we traded off this year. I want both of us to be on equally comfortable footing with his teachers, school leadership, and the parents of the other kids in the classroom. If only one of us consistently shows up to school events, that parent is seen as the captain, and the less-present parent is considered the first officer. I want them to see us as co-pilots*, but not in that creepy, we-attend-everything-together kind of way. In the, you-don't-have-to-talk-down-to-me-because-I-know-what's-going-on-in-the-classroom kind of way.
Also? The Boy loves both of us, and takes pride in our being there for him. I didn't have a lot of that as a kid. The being there of parents, I mean. Both of mine worked jobs where if they didn't show, they didn't earn, and if they didn't earn, I didn't get cereal. But I have the incredible luxury of blowing off work for two hours, sitting atop an Incredible Hulk blanket shaded by an elm , and watching my kid play a game of pick-up soccer with eight other little boys. I don't fault other parents who weren't able to be there, but I am very grateful that I can be.
At his age, a quarter of parenting is keeping them from doing Stupid Shit, like leaping from the deck to the yard below. Another quarter is giving them the instruction manual to life, such as, "You should say 'hello' back to someone who says 'hello' to you, because they think you didn't hear them otherwise." The other half? BEING THERE. Don't delude yourself that if you ask the other parent about how the day went, you are totally plugged into who your kid is. Doesn't work that way.
See, just like with your spouse, if you want to keep the relationship strong with your kids, you have to work at it. It doesn't just happen. And the best way to stitch yourselves to each other's lives is having shared experiences. If you're never there, you're not embedding yourselves in their lives.
Dude, I'm cutting this short(er). It got unexpectedly heavy. I really intended on this just being a "Hey! I had a PB & J sandwich outside with my kid and it was great!" post. Instead it because a manifesto on parenting.
*I don't know why I'm using airplane terminology. Everything I know about airplanes I learned from the Zucker brothers.
(from Wednesday, June 15)