I have not done as much writing as usual lately. I like to imagine that this performance drop would have made a difference to one or two of my readers, so I will let this post be my explanation and, hopefully, my resumption.
In addition to a host of professional and personal distractions, my prison’s Head Warden (2-year-old XO) has become much, MUCH, more demanding of me in the last few weeks- his newly vitalized forays into the lands of language, human politics and expectation management have given rise to a greater requirement for my feedback, guidance, help, ‘explanation’, and, very often, opposition. I should be happy at his increased interaction with the world, with his growth and development, and the increased opportunity to relate with him as an individual… and I do, but I am also quite terrified.
What could be scary about watching one’s child grow and develop? Well, my experience with the Deputy Warden (8-year-old Boogie) indicates that the requirement for parental support doesn’t reduce as they grow; in my opinion, it actually increases! Sure, Boogie is Deputy Warden because, on the surface, she requires less attention- I don’t have to bathe her, clean her up after she uses the loo, dress her, constantly guard her against burns, electrocution or falling, for example- but that’s only physically speaking. As she’s grown, she has come to need equally constant guidance and instruction in the areas of character polishing, hygienic practices for behavioral bowel movements, navigating the risks of emotional burns, societal electrocution, and reputational cliffs.
Additionally, Boogie and I have an 8-year-long friendship in which we have come to rely on each other, and I certainly wouldn’t want to let her down, so I have to work hard to maintain the dependability I worked harder to build with her. This translates, in my perception, to being available to help with homework, talking about her day in school and what she’s experiencing with friends, teachers and at home, providing context for the influences she’s exposed to in literature, music, and film, and playing a role in managing just what those influences are.
Now I have a new Head Warden that I am building that same foundation of friendship and dependability with and I am frightened that I might drown in all of this stewardship. When will I ever have the room to get anything done, take a few personal risks, indulge in a bit of misbehavior even? Technically, (unless my wife and I produce a new Head Warden) Deputy Warden Boogie will be ‘out of my hair’ in 10 years, and Head Warden XO in 16 years, but I doubt there are many of us who can just switch off parent mode when our kids turn 18. And even if we could, I am not sure that, professionally or personally, I can afford to give up the next decade of my life, let alone two.
I may have to take some further time off while I figure out how to deal with this. I know that this conundrum mainly faces a certain kind of parent, and I am unapologetically THAT kind of parent, but I would welcome all views on addressing this challenge… as long as they don’t include giving the children up for adoption.