Friday, April 26, 2013

Living Vicariously Through Your Kids – Catch the Fever

Usually when you hear in the news about some wacko dad who incites a riot by punching his kid’s Little League coach in the mouth or who shoves an opposing player in the handshake line, the prevailing wisdom is the dad is “some loser trying to live vicariously through his kids.” Probably true. This “Dad from Hell” has ruined his kid’s life by forcing him to play a sport that he never was able to as a kid, and the deleterious effects of such parenting often emotionally scar the offspring who try too hard to please the overbearing parents.

I say sign me up. Not for the deleterious effects, the Hell, or the emotional scarring (adolescents and adolescence will take care of all that for us), but for living a little through your kids. Parenting is a TRIP. Watching your kids do something you never had the guts to try inspires when inspiration is in short supply, especially so when the kids come up with the activity on their own. But they can’t come up with everything; their experiences are so limited. Showing them a few things from your childhood just expands the pool.
Tonight, for example, while logging our 2,000th hour of Tom and Jerry, my youngest stepped on the remote and took us back to live TV (he’s Olympic caliber at that), which was airing Wheel of Fortune. After we estimated how much time Pat Sajak spends in make-up –over/under 2.5 hours?—my wife and I looked at the kids to see their reactions. The letters, words, the colorful wheel, this is just the kind of thing our darling little nerd-progeny would get into. We envisioned downloading some WoF app that our middle child would play for five hours straight on road trips and that we’d have to take away when he misbehaved or when the kids fought over it, all to a shower of tears.  We were already starting to regret the decision to introduce this stupid game show to our kids.

“This is Boooring! We wanna watch the end of Tom and Jerry!” (Granted, it was the one where Spike is temporarily tied to his doghouse due to a new leash law, that’s a pretty good episode.) OK, no Wheel of Fortune in this house.
On the contrary, our six-year-old daughter, who a year ago declared her preferred vocations in the entertainment and royalty industry--“I’m going to be a princess and a dancer. Princesses don’t play soccer”—reconsidered and this year is playing soccer for the first time. Unprovoked. She came to us with it.

The kids will ultimately decide. We just provide some options, don’t push too hard, and hang on for the ride.

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