Dad and I had a spontaneous conversation about the importance of good parenting yesterday. Like most important conversations I've had lately, it took place on the playground. No kidding. You can see the proof of good or bad parenting on the playground I've decided. Good parents are there on the playground with their kids. Even if all they do is sit on a bench and wave back when their child shouts from the top of the slide, "Hey Mom, look at me!" they are still there. The bad parents are no where to be seen, and usually their kids are the ones who ruin the playground experience for every else. Anyway, my dad and I both agreed that parenting is hard, probably the hardest thing anyone will ever do, if it's done right. Good parenting requires a denial of self that not many people are comfortable with. Children just want to be loved. Unconditionally. Cliched? Yes, but true non-the-less. And true love means putting other people first, putting your child first. Now, this doesn't mean giving a child everything they ever wanted, or do everything for them. Isn't that a form of idolatry? Isn't that a form of neglect? A parent's job is preparing a child to survive in the world on their own, teaching them to fish rather than doing the fishing for them or so the often quoted antedote goes.
Okay, so I am not a perfect parent, nor do I want to be one. But I do want to be a good parent. Why? Because when Ethan is 31, I want to spend moments with him like the moment I spent with my dad yesterday. My parents aren't perfect, but they are good, and everything I learned about parenting I learned from them. And even though parenting is hard, what they did for me is so simple. They were just there. When I stood at the the top of all the slides in my life, real or metaphorical, they were there to wave back. They loved me for who I was, unconditionally, and I never questioned that. (Of course, I never tested the limits of that, but why ruin a good thing by being an ass, right?)
And I had to write something, because I love my Dad and all the small moments I get to spend with him.