Foreword By Piya Mukherjee : It is not every day that a parent gets a pat on his / her shoulder. When was the last time someone ever told you that you were freaking awesome as a parent? And for that very reason this story by Barbara Stanifer is a must read for all parents. It will make your day (I smiled and did a little dance when I read it) and make you want to send her a Thank You note for all the kind words, acknowledgement and appreciation she expresses about what parents do. Like always her story is from her observation in the course of her day.
On my walk this morning there was a mom a dad and two boys probably 5 and 7, all riding bikes. Going around a corner the youngest boy bit the dust – literally – wound up in the dirt, skidded for a bit. The mom rides on, the dad stops and as the older boy approaches the scene the dad tells him to keep riding. The little one is sitting on the ground crying. The dad pulls him up and says a few times, “brush it off, stay strong”.
I think to myself do dads really still say that to their sons? I want to say out loud geeze hug him, don’t give him the don’t cry, be a man crap. Then the dad says, “dude, you were focusing on me and where I was on the path, you just focus on you and everything will be fine”. A few minutes later, they both pass me from behind, the Dad is riding well ahead of the little one and the kid is good to go. No tears, riding confidently – and as they round the corner the mom sees him and shouts out “whoo hoo, yay Josh!” And now I want to cry.
I thought this is such a testament to why kids need both the soft love AND the tough love and that is ideally delivered as a team. If I were his mom, the kid would probably never get back on the bike again – with all the “poor baby” I’d lay on him. I was so impressed by this dad, he knew exactly what was needed to get his son confidently back on that bike – that the ultimate job of a parent is to raise self-assured, productive humans not just make them comfortable.
He knew it had to be a focused conversation between he and his youngest son that the older one needed to ride on so the little one didn’t feel embarrassed. He explained why it happened so the kid could self correct and understood that the old adage still holds true about “getting back up on the horse” being the best way to conquer fear.
I know for you parents out there this is just daily existence, one that some days you get right and other days you get wrong. It’s a tough job you have, cheers to all of you who master the large and small victories every day! Good parents are freaking awesome!