Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bad Parenting: 101

I have totally screwed up my kids. I'm the first to admit this. When we had our first, we got lots of free advice on how to raise them from family and "friends". As with all free advice, it was worth every penny. Eventually, over time, I realized that my kids were mine, and not anyone else's.
So wne other new parents would ask me for advice I would always tell them, "the best advice I can give you about raising your children, is to not listen to anyone's advice.
It's not that kids don't come with a manual, it's that there are too damn many manuals that have nothing to do with your particular model. You are on your own, because you have created something unique. At least that is how I justify my shitty parenting skills. I do everything wrong.
I am sure I tried to do everything right at one point, but either I really didn't have that skill, or I just decided at one point that everyone else was full of shit. Either or..it has the same effect.

I do lots of the opposite of what you might think is the right thing. For instance, when I drive around with my teenaged son. I crank the stereo with my CD that my kid calls "Death metal". I am a child of the 80's heavy metal, Metalica style psycho rock and roll. Then I drive like a maniac. Hard fast turns, and jumping off the start. His friends think it's awesome, but he is terrified. as a result, he drives like a grandmother. 
Another example, is when I took him into a head shop. I picked out a few bongs and water pipes, then explained how they work, and how you can put crushed ice and creme de' minth in them to give your pot a menthol taste. I showed him some one hitters, and pointed out that "Zig-Zag" was the preferred wrapping paper. After that I explained how pot smelled and what it felt like, and how you appear when you are stoned. This was so that he would know that he could never get away with getting high around me. He did tell me later that the message he really got from that day was when I told him that drugs don't actually kill, like they say on the anti-drug commercials, I said, "look at Ozzy Osborne or Keith Richards, the truth is that you may actually live, and be a total veg."

I let him drink with me, on very rare occasions. But only Guinness extra Stout. I say, if you want to drink a beer, drink a fucking beer. He has since told me that I ruined him for Bud. He can't even stand the smell when his friends try to offer it to them. Also, I have had sushi and saki with him, and a few shots of Jameson.
These were rewards for losing weight. He had become a very big boy. He asked me to help him lose weight, so I put him on a low carb diet, and with every milestone of weight loss, he got to have a celebratory drink with his dad.

We homeschool. And by "we" I mean my wife has been home schooling.  But now that he is High School age, I have had to get involved. It's quite a bonding experience. We are two guys, getting it done. he stays out of trouble and is a good kid.

My daughter? Well, I dote on her like she is a princess. My wife says that she is such a total pain in the ass now, that no man would ever want to even try to pull any load of crap on her, let alone ask her out on a date.
She is 11.
My work there is done. 

I could go on and on with story after story of how I am screwing up my kids. But frankly, they are not over scheduled, they have good friends, they don't get into trouble, nobody is pregnant so far, and we are almost done... In a few years they will be out of my friggin' house! Woo, hoo!

Will they be a success? I don't know. Will they be over acheivers? I don't know. Will they have a good head on their shoulders with a good sense of right and wrong, and a bit of a sense of humor about the world and their place in it? That's what I'm shootin' for. 
That's all any of us are shootin' for really..... plausible deniability, if their life goes to shit.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Take it or leave it.

I am a guy who knows some stuff. mainly, tools, chemistry, construction and plumbing...handy man stuff mostly. And when people ask for my advice, I give it to them based on my limited knowledge. The odd thing is, that I noticed that people ask for this sage advice, but almost never actually fallow it.
Like when my friend came to my house to drop my daughter off from a ball game. I was sitting on my porch in my rocking chair sipping a gin and tonic as I usually do. She asked how I could do this in the Arkansas summer without being eaten alive by mosquitos. I told her my method, the chemicals I used and the frequency that I treated my yard. She said "oh, I should try that". Another friend came over to my house and his kid loved the porch swing bed I had built for my daughter. It hung from the ceiling by chains like a porch swing but it was a bed. He asked me how I built it. I told him about the truss I made in the attic and all the hardware I used to create the illusion that it was actually attached to the house. Another friend came over once and we talked about talking. See, I read the bible verses at church. Many of my fellow church goers really like the way I read the bible. So much so that one of the other readers came over to ask me what my secrets were. I told her. There is a website that has the readings on it with an audio of someone else reading it so you don't get the pronunciations wrong. Then, you read it like you are preaching it, raising your voice and speeding up your diction until you get to that main point, then pause dramatically, before you continue. It's basic public reading.

But in all of these cases, none of those people took my advice, even though they asked for it.
I am sure many of you have experienced the same thing. And frankly, I don't know what the alternative is.
What do you do?  Blow them off?

This brings me to a side point that may bring me to several other side points. All of these solutions required work, also, they required you to really care. And that is the interesting thing here. Giving a shit.
I am not Autistic, I do not have an Autistic kid. I do not know a damn thing about having an Autistic child.
But I read the stories, I read the trials and tribulations. And I actually find myself relating to the kid rather than the parent. These kids really care. They totally give a shit, way more than everyone else. Often way too much.
But that is the thing.
I once had a job sculpting rocket engines for NASA.... kinda'. It was an insane attention to detail.
But I loved the job.
It took a certain kind of insanity to actually do that job, and I was up to the task. I hope I wasn't offensive with that.
The awesome thing that happened today was my beautiful daughter. The light of my life... my princess.
I had some plumbing to do. I was using her to hold the flashlight.. And as I was replacing the access valve because it had a leak, I explained exactly how plumbing worked and what tools she would need to do that job. 
She soaked it up like a sponge. And even said that once she is in college and they have a plumbing problem, she will say "I got this!".\
That's a good feeling.