I'm sitting at the car dealership this morning...again. Nothing's wrong, the Commonwealth of PA is just forcing me to fork over my contribution to the budget via the annual car inspection and emissions testing. So guess what I have time to do while I wait - keep my 30 day challenge! Can't you just hear Oprah screaming that?
Anyway, practically from the moment I found out I was pregnant all those years ago, I've been trying incorporate what I believe are the most important components of childrearing into my life with the Wunderkind. This weighty topic really warranted even more serious consideration when my marriage fell apart and the task fell to me alone. One constantly hears that children raised by single
mothers are poorer, less likely to graduate high school much less college, more likely to use drugs, be involved in gangs,
engage in premarital sex and the list goes on and on - ad nauseum. While I believe every word of that and I know with every fiber of my being that two parent families practicing love, respect and
similar value systems are the ideal. Unfortunately that is simply not the reality for many despite starting out with the best intentions. Rather than being
beat over the head day after day with the negativity and dire predictions, why not spend more time teaching those in that situation the very best ways to parent. Parenting comes instinctively to cats, elephants and bears not necessarily to people (or pandas), it seems. So throughout this month, I'll highlight what I believe is important in this monumental undertaking and if you know a young Mom struggling for direction please share. I'm no scientist but I do have some one the job training.
A ginormous miscalculation is made when parents, especially in communities of color, give into the societal emphasis on things (clothes, electronics, hair weaves, fake nails, jewelry - all the outer trappings) rather than experiences and exposures. IMHO no kid who lives within a 2 hour drive of major city should own a smart phone if they've never been to a poetry reading, symphony performance, a theatre performance (school productions excluded) or a museum. As parents we have absolutely no way of knowing what small exposure will ignite the passion that could lead to the cure for cancer, a solution to global warming, or a better election process in the USA!
Not to toot my own horn but the Wunderkind has been involved in some kind of activity every year starting at age 2. It started with swimming, then gymnastics, soccer, ballet, dance, bowling, ice skating, karate, Spanish, Arabic, theatre classes, swimming again and 4 years ago she found her love - field hockey. She has been to week long overnight Summer camps for 7 straight years, sporting events, innumerable Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performances (they always offer wonderful chidren's programs every year), theatre off Broadway, concerts, museums including the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam (she was enamored with him thanks to her kindergarten teacher), and visited 4 foreign countries. I'm exhausted just typing that list - how on earth I ever had the energy to run around like that is almost mind boggling now. And yes, I paid for all of those activities (except field hockey) myself but I also wore my natural hair pulled back in a bun for a decade. Now I know, many Moms can't do all that especially if they have multiple chldren but reassessing one's priorities will certainly get you closer and them closer to becoming cultured little citizens. A couple missed appointment @ the manicurist or touch upor weave delay weeks will do it and is worth it their weights in gold. If you are really resourceful you can find grants and organizations who offer these little jewels to so called under-priviledged kids or those smart enough to ask! If kids are never exposed to the many "what ifs" and wonders that life offers, we can't really faulted when they fail to excel and imagine themselves succeeding, now can they?
The Wunderkind is now a high school Sophomore but even at her age and despite with the fact that I am now among the chronically underemployed, I still believe that kids just can't have too much exposure. So later today we'll be dressed a little fancier, smelling a little sweeter and trekking down to Baltimore to be inspired by the Broadway hit WICKED at the Hippodrome.
While I can't see into the future, I'm pretty sure tomorrow she will tell me she's decided again to move to NYC after college and become an actress. And you know what, that's fine with me. I'd rather have her head in the clouds than believing life is just hell on earth. Inspiration far outshines the ticket prices. Truthfully though, I have no way of knowing if my Wunderkind will grow up to be an historian, actress or bankrobber but I do know that if it's the latter, it won't be because that's all she knew. And every Mom, single or not, should do her best to be able to say the same.
Day 2 - another Ted talk