It’s funny how they have aptitude and entrance tests for every skilled task under the sun, but nothing for two of the most vital professions that have the power to improve or destroy life as we know it. Politics and Parenthood.
There’s been enough said about politics and examinations that have not been passed, so let’s take a rain check on politics. If politicians can’t do their job it’s the public that has to get on with the job. If parents can’t do their job, sons and daughters have to stride out on their own. Parenting is what is bothering me right now, and what has bothered me ever since I became one 27 years ago.
I thought I had blundered through pretty well considering that both my children accuse me of favouring the other.
“That’s a good thing,” I said to them. “It shows I am impartial and therefore a good parent.”
“It does not,” said Child Number One.
“Oh yeah?” I asked coldly, “and what would you say a good parent is?”
“One who makes each one of her children think they’re special,” she said.
So okay, but at least we raised a thinking person. Parenting is a scary business. One could raise a leader among men, honest, wise and good. One could raise a black hearted monster who will be a scourge among people and destroy all that is honest, wise and good. Then again, one could raise a balanced individual, a little good, a little bad, one who could rise to the occasion when necessary and not be easily shocked and crushed by evil.
The thing is with parenthood one does not automatically inherit wisdom and balance; we are still the same confused, uncertain, average people groping in the dark, now responsible for the lives and future of two or more new human beings. Any action we take with our children could have far-reaching and devastating effects further down the years. It’s scary.
Take the stupid cellphone for instance. You know that the school does not allow children to carry cell phones but you are a single parent leading a complicated life and you have a child who needs to keep in contact with you. It makes sense to buy her a cell phone. The instrument makes it easy for you to keep in contact with her 24 x 7, but it also opens her up to keeping the line open for the wrong kind of company. Only later you realize that the cellphone has plunged both her and you into a nightmare of gigantic proportions. Not only has the situation destroyed your peace of mind, but it is also completely destroying your child’s mind and her future.
Now here one needs to bring in the other characters on the parental stage – sons and daughters. No matter how silly and short-sighted our parents may be, they have made it possible for us to avail of an education. We know that every step of the way, we always have a choice. As sons, even if our parents forget to tell us to respect all things, especially women, or to treat all beings with care and compassion, we should do it, because our education tells us it is the right thing to do. We learn about right and wrong from an early age.
As daughters we are cast in the mould of prey from the beginning. It’s a little more difficult for us. If we are lucky to survive the womb, we have to survive predators every step of the way. Even if our parents forgot to tell us to respect others and above all to respect ourselves, our education tells us how to differentiate right from wrong.
Parents come with their own baggage, but sons and daughters can study the choices before them. They can choose to do wrong. Or they can choose to do right. The choice is always before them. And even after doing wrong, they can choose to make wrong right.