My parents are my saviors when it comes to helping me with my children. They pick them up twice a week from school, are always up for babysitting duty and school vacations – they have them covered. I swear I’m not trying to suck up to them (okay maybe a little) but they are seriously awesome at the grandparenting gig. Which is, I have to be honest here, something that totally shocks and amazes me. Because in their younger years they were a teeny bit, how shall I say this…wild. Let’s just say that my upbringing was a bit chaotic – filled with love – but chaotic. But my, how time does mellow even the most wild of wild children (yes, I’m talking about you dad). Well, mostly mellow. Because as I’ve been reminded from time to time that behind my father’s sweet grandfatherly exterior still beats the heart of a counter-culture rebel who plays by his own set of rules. Rules that in no way conform to today’s prevailing parenting philosophy of “every child is special” and political correctness.
My dad yells at children’s sporting events. And don’t get me wrong he’s not just yelling at my children. He yells at every child on the field who isn’t performing to their personal best. Yup, I remember the first time he did it as if it were yesterday because the horror still haunts me. It was years ago during my oldest son’s soccer game when one of his four-year-old teammates stood still while the ball went right past him. Which prompted my father to yell loudly in a totally pissed-off voice, “Beau stop sleeping out there!” I usually sit next to him to try to keep this to a minimum and if I can’t make a game I usually try to enlist one of my friends to help take the edge off if he gets too worked up. You’re laughing because it’s not your dad. That’s cool.
But his best work is when I forget who I’m dealing with and I ask him to give advice to one of my sons. Like the time my youngest was in a biting war with another child in his pre-school. These two boys took turns biting each other and since the pre-school had a zero biting policy I had to go get him from school nearly every day. There was a day I couldn’t rearrange my schedule, nor could my husband or my mother so we called in my dad. Two days later I get a call from the school that not only had my son bitten this kid (oddly enough also named Beau) but that this time he punched him. Dear God in Heaven help me – it’s escalating, not getting better. Distraught, I called my mom on the way to the school and told her about the latest development. To which my mom folded like a house of cards and admitted that when my father had picked my son up the previous day he had advised my preschooler to hit this kid next time instead of biting him because he needed to stop getting thrown out of school. Again you’re laughing because it’s not your dad.
But the latest installment of my dad dropping wisdom is when my son had a problem with a girl at school which resulted in a series of ugly texts and nasty Instagram posts (which deserves its own blog post – just still trying out to figure out how the heck to handle it before I go telling other parents what to do). I was talking to my mom and asked her if maybe dad could talk to my son about ways that he controls his anger and that might help him out. To which my mom again folded like a house of cards and explained that she had already discussed this idea with my dad and he had said that he’d love to help. He wanted to share with my son the time he had his heart broken by a girl and that he ended up writing a story about her. In this story he had killed her and it make him feel a lot better. Again, you are laughing because it’s not your dad.
As much as my dad’s advice seemingly has no place in today’s parenting landscape a part of me can’t help but wish his grandchildren retain some of his fight and fire. I do want to raise children who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves and who can express even their ugliest feelings instead of bottling them inside until they burst. So while the delivery may need a little polishing, the wisdom – however twisted – is still something I cherish.