Setting: My kitchen. Obvious clutter. Dishes.
PB: So, do you think it's something we've done?
Me: I don't know. What do you think? Have we done something wrong?
PB: I'm not sure. Where can we do better?
Me: I don't know. I mean, we're both present. It's not like we're not around, available.
PB: Do you really think that matters?
Me: Yes! I think that matters.
PB: Okay. Okay.
Me: So what do we do?
PB: I don't know. What can we do?
Me: I don't know. What do you think?
PB: I don't know. What do you think?
This is the first of its kind in our house. It was the first conversation Paul Bunyan and I have had about one of our children because she/he did something morally wrong. This time may have been about copying a friend's work at school, but soon we'll be playing the replay button when she steals for the first time, lies to us, smokes pot, gets drunk, has sex before she's married, stays out past her curfew, and generally does everything a perfectly good and morally directed young girl does.
There are no answers. There are books with answers. I've read one. It worked for awhile. But then they change. Those kids, they grow. Their feet grow, legs, teeth, bones, brains. It's hard to keep up.
Even after all this growing my daughter is still good and moral even though she did something wrong, even though she knew what she was doing was wrong. Even though this has broken my heart.
This parenting thing...I tell ya...it's like going on a date with someone who can't make a decision and you get all pissed that you're making all the decisions because you know that when your date is unhappy you get blamed. It's confusing. You want to make the right decision for the both of you and then you come to find out that he doesn't like Thai food, that he is, in fact, allergic to Thai food and then you're all, like, why didn't you say something? And he's all, like, I didn't want to make you mad? Wha? Communication is key, but when your child doesn't talk to you you're always trying your very best to guess what is happening. And guessing doesn't always work.
I bought this mirror for Claire's room even before she was born. At the top it says, "Do the right thing every dog-gone day and night of your life." I wanted it to be her compass. I pictured myself leaning over her tiny body to whisper this in her ear as she was drifting off to sleep so that she would wake the sweetest, kindest, most selfless girl I could ever raise. Without a religious cornerstone, Paul Bunyan and I have known that we are the ones responsible for the moral lessons in our home. So, when Claire does something so "wrong" we question what it is we are teaching our children and where we've strayed from the "do the right thing every dog-gone day and night of your life" dogma.
So what do we do? What do we do? Hmm. I mean we MUST take this parenting thing seriously. It is the the most important job we'll have. The the toughest job we'll ever have. And it never ends. And it always changes. And it's always challenging. And it's sometimes rewarding. And consistently hard. They leave you speechless. Without answers. Especially when they don't tell you beforehand that they don't like Thai.
What do we do? We hug. We are here. We hear. We hope.