April 30, 2007

Perfect Parenting

By now, most everyone has heard Alec Baldwin's message left on his daughter's phone, or at least knows the gist of it. I found the furor over it quite eye-opening, in the fact that so many people indignantly said that they would not do something so horrible and mean to their child. Yes, there were those with opposing political views that spoke out against him, but I'm not going down that path. Yes, what he said was heinous. It was sort of funny that he could not remember her age. And yes, Alec Baldwin has shown in the past that he lets his anger get the best of him. No, I am not defending him. But what I want to know is this: How is it possible that there are so many "perfect parents" out there, but no "perfect kids"?

I listened to or read transcripts of several talk shows (mostly radio), where far too often the caller said they had never, nor would ever, do something like this to their child. They would go on about how they never argue in front of their kids. Even those that had gone through ugly divorces said they didn't lose it with or in front of their kids. Can this really be possible? Sure, there will be some instances of this. But they really are the exception, not the rule. There was only one mother who at least admitted she argued with her husband in front of her kids.

I am married and have a 13 month old son. Most of the time, I have the longest fuse of anyone I know when it comes to anger and frustration. But my wife can push my buttons. And I can push hers. This usually ends up with us arguing. And sometimes it is in front of him. No, it has never reached Baldwin level. I can only hope and pray it never does.
Kat worries that we shouldn't argue in front of Chase. I am not that concerned, in that I think it is more likely that he will see the big picture. 90% to 95% of the time, we do not argue. We are quite happy and share that joy with him. I just know that conflict is a part of life. What is most important is that he sees how to resolve the conflicts. That sometimes "heated debate" is but only one way to get to the resolution.

This came back to me last night when I read about how a man stuffed a washcloth in a 10 week old baby's mouth and taped it to the baby so it could not remove it. Then he put the child in a carrier and in a closet. Just because he was frustrated over the baby's incessant crying. His girlfriend, who knew he was doing this, finally checked on the baby after a length of time. Yes, the baby was dead. If you can stomach it, you can get the details here.

I know that this and the Baldwin story are the extremes. I know that on the opposite end, there are a few "perfect parents". But where do the rest of us reside when it comes to this middle ground? What measures do you take so that your kid/kids do not have to deal with your frustrations?

Last night I went to bed at 1:30am. I was playing on the internet and knew that since I was off today, Kat could take Chase to "school" and I would get to sleep in. I could then get up and run errands. At 2:30am, Chase starts crying. He has a couple of molars breaking through. I go in to give him Liquid Nap (baby Tylenol) and I am greeted by a smiling, standing, very awake little boy. I tried rocking him for a while. Nothing, he's up. So we go into the living room, spread out the toys and play. He's up for TWO HOURS! Finally, I pick him up. Thirty more minutes of rocking and holding him, I finally get him back to sleep. AND NOT ONCE DID I GET ANGRY OR FRUSTRATED. I am being honest with you. I sat there and watched poker on ESPN2. We practiced our walking and enjoyed the time. No, really!

But to be completely honest, for those 2.5 hours, I did think about all the chores he will have to do when he's older. You see, I'm a "big picture" kind of guy.

No comments: