816 North Opinion

Susan Vollenweider’s column: Lessons learned while parenting

Like most things in life, parenthood teaches you stuff. Good stuff, bad stuff and stuff that, if you’re lucky, you won’t have to relearn because it slipped out of your brain.

Summer break is a memory and the kids are back in school book learning. This is their job right now: read, learn; listen learn; live, learn. I’m not sure if they realize that this pattern of learning will remain with them for their life long past the school years.

Learning remains one of the primary objectives here in Adultland. The teacher isn’t always a person at the front of the room, the textbooks won’t always be actual books and the tests? Ah, the tests aren’t usually taken for a letter grade but passing or failing will become abundantly obvious.

Take my today, for instance.

My today began as a day that has been lived by a lot of parents. While three members of my family could go about their normal routine, Little Mr. Hurls-a-lot and I were staying home. Surely you know the drill: rest, discomfort, dash to deposit, repeat. I couldn’t wander too far away from him; I needed to be the comforter for the deposit.

My today was a wheels-spinning-but-not-going-anywhere day as my To Do list turned into a To Do Later list. About mid-day I was feeling pretty bad about what I had, or rather hadn’t, accomplished. The remains of breakfast were stacked in the sink or crusted on the stove; the trash and the dishwasher both needed emptying, and any work-work remained undone.

“I’m failing today. What a wasted day,” I fretted.

Then I stopped, as a memory from hours before put a little hope in my belly. The hope grew as I replayed the seemingly mundane morning and mentally began listing all that I had learned.

I learned that if I have a dream about a kid forgetting to do something, act on it even if it sounds stupid and micro-managerial like, “You know that duel credit class that you’re taking? When will I see the college registration paperwork?”

(Answer: “(Expletive) it’s due today and I left it in my locker!”)

I learned that the forgetful kid is also resourceful. A few hours later the form was in my hands at home, signed and back to school without him missing any class time.

I learned that the youngest child, the one who has always had a playmate, is now more than able and quite content to entertain himself.

I relearned that once the sick day begins, as upsetting as it is to have a kid who doesn’t feel well, it’s quiet in the house and feeling needed is heartwarming.

I learned that the mango-flavored electrolyte drink is the new best flavor; I relearned the right amount of drink to give a chucking kid.

I learned that my daughter, the one who had been so nervous about college a year ago, was thriving. She had wiggled out of her chrysalis of worry and flew into life with joy.

“I’m going out with some friends,” she told me as she swapped her school backpack for a small purse and headed out to a waiting car. She then morphed from daughter to teacher as she turned back to me at the last moment and yelled with victorious delight, “I love my friends and the colorful flags they wave!”

I learned that days when I feel like I’m not going anywhere, if I look back, I can easily see what I have learned along the way.

I learned that life wasn’t passing me by; I was passing at life.

Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing, go to thehistorychicks.com

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