sideline parenting (6 of 12) — write on the walls
August 3, 2008 3 Comments
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” — John Wooden (former UCLA men’s basketball coach)
UCLA’s basketball program has an international reputation of being No. 1. There is a major reason for that, his name is John Robert Wooden, who announced his retirement after the 1974-75 season (his 27th campaign) as the Bruins’ head coach with the winning-est record in all of the sport’s history. Wooden celebrated his 97nd birthday on Oct. 14, 2007.
That is why it pains me to say, in a public forum, that the above quote is the worst piece of advice I have ever heard.
Think about our job as parents and the fact that the directions to get our job done are about as clear as the subject matter in Tom Cruises Scientology Indoctrination Video. OK, maybe it’s not THAT twisted, but we can agree that there is a whole bunch of trial and error when it comes to acting and reacting to some of the stuff that gets plopped on our parental plate, like prison food in those sectioned metal trays that will eventually be used to ‘brain’ an unsuspecting victim to prove that you won’t be messed with while you’re in the joint. You just wanna do your time with the general population, take care of your debt to society, and get back to your life.
As parents, we have hundreds of decisions to make in a single day. Some of them are easy, some of them are hard, and some we simply have no clue where to begin. Some happen when we are in a good mood. Some happen when we are in a crappy mood. Some when we are well, and some when we are sick. There are thousands of possible scenarios and thousands of possible responses. There are certain occasions when we come across something familiar and we have a good idea how to address it, and others are entirely new and require some very quick thinking (or a really good guess).
…So my son (13) erases every digital picture that our family has ever taken (or been in) while trying to download some kooky game onto our computer.
I (39) was cool about it for a few seconds. Then, as if someone stuck an oven knob in my rear end and turned it to “Pre-Heat 5000 to degrees”, I got fired up quite a bit. I raised my voice, demeaned, scolded, lashed out, lamb basted, and visually struck him with my patented “Stare of 1001 Arrows”. Then I stormed off huffing and puffing looking for a house to blow down. My wife catches a glimpse of what is going down and does her best ‘Johnny Cochran‘ impersonation to try to help acquit my son, withhold adjudication, and waive all court costs.
Mommies are so cool?
So I gave her a little bit too, stormed off in my steaming rage, and marinated in my pissedoffedness. My son ‘ducked’ me for an hour or so and then disappeared to a friends house to sleep over. But not before asking my wife if I “hated him”. “Mrs. Cochran” was kind enough to present that little bit of evidence to the court. It was immediately objected upon and tossed out as inadmissible, but she made sure that the judge heard it anyway.
Crap…What did I do?
So, now I get to swim in the smelly pit of self righteousness that I just dug out, skim coated, and filled with the spit and urine of a heard of camels; while my son is out in the world (next door) thinking that I am a dad that just excommunicated him because he took a chance and made a mistake.
In this case, I chose not to “do it right the first time”; but you know what I realized? There IS a time to “do it over”. RIGHT NOW. It was too late to call, so I wrote him a note on his bedroom wall (pictured). It was an explanation (kinda) and an apology. When he came home and read it, it opened up a chance for me to “do it over”. I must admit, it worked out allot better the second time. He must have liked the idea, because it’s 2 days later and it’s still there. Most importantly…he could be certain that I didn’t hate him.
You see, parenting is not just “trial and error”. It’s also “adjustment and correction”. Your job is not completed based on your “intent”. It is completed when you have made a positive “impact”. Pay attention to the difference.
Daughter (9) – “Who wrote that thing on C******’s wall?
Me (39) – I did.
Daughter (9) – :thumbs up: Cool.