Parenting 101- (The Hops and Barley Chapter)

tumbuh iaIt has occurred to me in recent years that when it comes to this parenting thing, I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. I just may very well be in way over my head.

When did this realization come into light you ask? Well it has been compiling little by little through the years. But it came to a head the other night when I had all three of my daughters, crying, at the same time, in three separate parts of the house, about three completely different things. All the while my son was in the backyard trying to light a fire with a Sunday paper, a grill lighter and a gallon of gasoline. Even the dog was whimpering about like he had a thorn stuck in his paw. At least the dog I could figure out a little easier. I always find it amusing when he sits right at my feet whenever the girls start arguing. Like I can protect him from that hell.

When the kids were small, it was so much easier and far more rewarding. They cry, you pick them up. They love you and need you for everything. Now I find myself connecting more to a frosty mug and the hops and barley within than to my own children.

tearI am sure that it must be very hard for a 15-year-old girl who is going to a mainly male populated trade school. She is the only girl in her class. She has become the victim of cyber bullying. She has no female friends and of course all the male friends she has at some point, try to become more than friends. So it gets very confusing for her. She craves that bond but of course there is no way a high school boy can give her that. She gets very lonely and that makes her very vulnerable. So her tears come from her own frustration. She feels she doesn’t belong anywhere and she can’t possibly take advice from her father, so she struggles to figure it out on her own.

My 6-year-old cries more for attention. She is 6 after all. She doesn’t want to clean her room before she invites a friend over to play, so she lies on her bed under her covers and cries. Chores are torture. Every single piece of clothing that she is made to put in the laundry and a pain seeking task.

My 10-year-old, well she just cries for any reason you can imagine, and some that you can’t. I asked her why she’s crying and she simply replies, “I don’t know”. Her best friend is moving away at the end of the school year and this just adds to her tears. She is over flowing with emotion and has a very hard time controlling it.

So I turn to my wife for help, but of course she is at a pivotal point of the Candy Crush game on her I-Phone. So I look to my son for validation. He’s 17. And standing around a fire he has made in the backyard. But all he can talk about is moving as far away from us as he can. It’s all he EVER talks about. He can’t wait to leave this life far behind him. He told me even if he has to be homeless, sleeping in parks and eating nothing but bananas, he’s gone. His sense of reality is that of a Wiz Khalifa video. When the rose-colored glasses come off is when his true reality will set in. It’s not going to be pretty I’m afraid. I try to tell him that if you’re not living in the moment, then you’re not living at all. The past is just a memory and the future does not exists yet. I hope he can find his way to manhood without too many heart breaks. My advice once again just falls on deaf ears. What does this old guy know anyway.

twophaseso_ndposc3wSo at this point in time I have to ask myself, Why did I want to be a father so bad? Since I was a very young man I knew I wanted to have the big family and the house and the dog. Days like that one make me wonder how I ever got on this path to begin with. (Oh that’s right, tequila).
It’s not like I had any role models to look up to as a child. My parents had four children who all left home in their teens and never returned. Some where never even heard from again. I never had a grandfather, both my grandmothers were divorced before I was born and the grandfathers never came around.

So what made me think I could do this better? What lunacy have I blinded myself with. I suppose if my wife and I had the same ideals when it comes to raising our children than it might be a lot easier. But we are very different people who completely disagree on almost ever aspect of parenting. Neither is right or wrong. We just see things through a different lens.

Thank God for hops and barley.220px-Hopfendolde-mit-hopfengarten

I keep telling myself that each child goes through phases. That my son will turn 18 and graduate and find work close to home. That he’ll never move more than a couple of blocks away from me. That he’ll settle down with a nice girl and start a family of his own. That he will see the importance of family and the need to stay close.

I tell myself my oldest daughter will create her own business and find a nice group of girls that she can trust and be friends with. That she’ll grow into a confidant and strong woman. That she will see that she can do anything she sets her mind to, but that doesn’t always mean that she should. That she will learn to live beyond impulse and be happy with who she is. And see herself as I see her. Beautiful.

I tell myself my 10-year-old will grown into the incredible young woman who I already know her to be. That she will understand that life doesn’t always have to result in sorrow. To live and experience is a joy in itself. The right moment can last a lifetime.

And I tell myself that my youngest will finally learn to not eat chips in bed and that the dresser is for clean clothes not the floor.

…And I tell myself that none of them will ever leave me. That they will live in this house forever. For as much as they find these walls closing in on them, I find them to be the most comforting confined spaces I have ever known.




About paulsdahlman

Born in Southern California, raised on the road and now growing roots in New England. I am on the journey of my lifetime. May the footprints I leave behind form the words to my story.
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