Starting out as such a young mother, everyone felt they had to give me advice on how to parent. At first it drove me crazy, but I got used to it quickly. If my mom was around she’d tell people not to bother, that I got my advice from parenting books and magazines. The old hens would then burst into laughter, my mother joining them.
Years later, I noticed signs at the kids’ school advertising free parenting classes. I actually turned my nose up to it at first. Like I needed that, I got my skills from books. Knew enough.
Luckily, a friend of mine talked me into going “just for fun.” I did go, and did have fun. What I learned first of all was how this “parenting classes” thing got started. A few years before we moved here, there had been a suicide epidemic at the high school. It started with one teenager, and in just a couple of weeks so many kids had killed themselves they had to shut down the school for a while.
In response, the community donated money and opened a parenting library and this series of parenting classes taught by licensed family therapists. I continued to go for a couple of years and learned a lot of things, not just about my kids but about mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers… myself.
The most important thing I learned was in a class about children entering middle school. Those are the roughest years, I find. The mean ones. The advice was to tell your sons and daughters not to get caught up in comparing themselves to others.
I realize some people would disagree, that it just teaches them not to be competitive. I just encourage my kids to outdo themselves and it seems to work. Their grades are great and they don’t seem to have any extraordinary self esteem issues. They did make it through middle school.
Still, I worry about this place and that thing that happened all those years ago.
Lately Sweetpea has been asking to visit her friend who recently moved to Littleton, Colorado. Yeah, she goes to Columbine. Scary. Sigh.