CANDY ALLAN: Getting a sneak peek into the future
I believe both my kids are now classified as tweens. That category seems to be ages 10 to 12 or 13, depending on your source. I don’t seem to remember this as a “thing” when I was growing up, but times change — or I was oblivious, take your pick.
As they get older, they are becoming afflicted with an increasing degree of attitude and smart remarks … don’t know where they got those (cough, cough).
I was fortunate enough to spend the entire past week with my family on vacation. We had a great time, and the kids managed to get along just about all the time. That week afforded me an opportunity to watch them interact with the world around them in a way I don’t usually get to observe anymore.
These days, when they’re not at home, they’re on their own at school or with friends and I’m not on hand to watch how they react like I could when they were very young.
As a mom, I’m required by the International Code of Motherhood to attempt to put Something Educational into family trips. The kids know this and deal with it well — partly because they get to vote on the destination, but mostly because it’s inevitable and they’ve come to accept that.
However, I was the one learning as I watched them tour the historic site and the art museum we visited.
First, while I know my job as a parent is to get them not to need me anymore, I didn’t really think they’d be this good at it already. For example, on our visit to Fort Meigs, they held an hour-long discussion with the historical interpreter on site. I was there, but I can’t say my husband or I were contributing to the conversation.
We had arrived early and no one else was there yet, so they took advantage of the opportunity. I watched them try on recreated infantry uniforms dating from the War of 1812 and ask intelligent questions about pieces of the uniform, surgeons’ tools and practices, soldiers’ gear and the accuracy of the weapons at the time. I don’t know who was enjoying themselves more — the kids, the interpreter or me!
Second, while I’ve noticed this before at various times, it’s really starting to hit home that they are their own people. They don’t like what I like, and it’s not just simple rebellion — they can defend their position and do so increasingly well.
At the art museum, we were looking at various paintings and my daughter preferred the less defined sketches and more modern work. My son argued they appeared “out of focus” but she responded by saying, “You have to look at it and THINK about it. It’s not just all there for you. You’ve got to work for it and that makes it better.”
As a parent, it’s not my job to be friends with my kids. But once in a while, I get a glimpse of a future where we will be. That’s pretty cool.
Let’s be honest, I’ve been making up this parenting thing as I go along ever since my son was born. I know there’s more experienced parents out there and folks with different ideas. Respond to my column by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you might see your thoughts in print in an upcoming issue of the Herald Review.