I have some weird parenting goals. Or at least they aren’t the kind of goals that I hear other moms talking about. I want all of my girls be grow up to be the kind of person who:
- has empathy
- has a sense of honour and a strong, personal moral code.
- have a sense of humour
- can take responsibility and admit they are wrong. I struggle with this, everyone struggles with this, but it is an important skill.
- can cook a meal or seven
- can clean up after they cook a meal. Actually, properly clean up. My mom went away for a month when my sister and I were grow up and self sufficient and the day before she came home, I spent three hours washing every dish, every pot every cup that my dad had used that month then left growing mould in the sink. And the other sink and on every flat surface in the kitchen. I work in health care, I deal with bodily fluids on a regular basis, I have run the 72 hour fecal fat test where you test everything EVERYTHING a person has pooped out in three days.
Washing those dishes is still number one on my list of most disgusting things I have ever done.
I love you, mom.
- will put the dishes into the dishwasher, not just near the dishwasher and will unload the dishwasher when it is clean
- will clean up their spills
- will walk, bike or take the bus when it is the most reasonable option
- can do their own laundry
- can find something productive to do instead of just expecting the world to entertain them. Don’t turn on the TV, play with or clean up your toys, ride your bike, go for a walk, knit, sew, bake cookies, fold your laundry, unload the dishwasher, wash the floor, anything! There is always something that needs to be done. “I’m bored” is an invitation for me to pick a job for you instead of you figuring it out on your own.
- I want my kids to grow up self supporting but to also understand that there is always more to buy then you have money to spend. No matter how much income you have, you can always spend more than you make. With care, you can live quite comfortably with not as much as you would think.
I have worked a lot of jobs I wasn’t happy in or that weren’t ideal. I have been a night phelbotomist, a bar waitress in a very short skirt, a sushi production like worker, I have worked multiple jobs with long drives and short time between them, I have gone more than 200 days without a day off while working three jobs that translated to be more hours than two full time positions to pay off my student and car loans. I want my girls to know that if they need to, really need to, it’s ok to take what job you can get to pay the bills.
I want them to be able to support themselves, but also know that it is ok to occasionally be underemployed to balance money and time and family. I could take one of those 10 days on, 4 days off jobs or go back to nights. Either would pay a lot better than my current one, but I would be out sourcing the raising of Little Girl at that point. Money is tight, but there is always home made dinner on the table and someone to help with homework.
We don’t have much money and we don’t try to hide that from the kids. Right there, that seems to have prevented a sense of entitlement. Family budget night is open to anyone who is interested in attending around here.
Yes, we have a budget. I want them to learn how. We live close enough to the line that we need one. A major car repair could have serious implications around here. We would deal, but if we didn’t watch our money, we wouldn’t be able to handle something unexpected like that. I want my girls to understand credit cards and how banking works and why credit is like mining the future.
- I want them to be respectful to people who are doing necessary but unpleasant jobs. Calling me a phlebotomist, well, that’s my job, or part of it. Calling me a vampire is completely unoriginal and not funny and now I still have to not hurt you as I poke you with a 2 inch needle that I could very easily hit bone with, but I didn’t, so don’t complain about that either. You have the right to refuse. Either refuse or let me do my job. I am good at it, I care about not missing.
- I would like my girls, if they are medically able, to be blood donors. Only 3.5 percent of the eligible population give blood and there are so, so many people who aren’t even eligible. If you have a chromic disease that requires regular medication, you likely aren’t eligible. Men who have sex with men are still not eligible to donate in Canada, even though they are 10% of the population and that the HIV risk in their population has pretty much evened out with the risk to anyone who is sexually active. To have a comfortable supply of blood products we would need to increase that to at least 6% of eligible donors. As it is, sometimes we have to triage who gets blood when two or more major events come in at the same time. I am very happy to have a job where I no longer have to watch that decision being made. I can’t image what it is like to have to make it.
For a long time now, our family has been just trying to get past the next hurdle on the horizon. The current one is getting V through the last couple of months of high school with out her breaking under the stress. When I look at the long term list above, so far, we are doing pretty well.
In the long run, being able to budget and cook for herself will be more valuable than getting an extra 3% in high school physics.
You are going to be OK, V. This is just one hurdle in the long track of life.