cafe mama

finding magic every day

proof of parenting . march 10 . 2009

notes on my knitting and parenting
I have tried to explain this new philosophy of mine to Jonathan so many times that its refrain runs in my head, pop song with an anxious rhythm but a true heart, at night as I lay in the children's bed, reading last books and nursing Monroe to sleep. It is the background to my Nikes, pounding the pavement; it is the beat that powers me, zig-zagging up a steep hill on my bike.

I have it figured out, I have it all figured out, I say. I am earnest and desperate. And sometimes I shout in my earnestness, which of course contradicts my message. What I have figured out is calm and peaceful and never shouts. I have found the answer, but the difficulty, as always, is in the proof.

I can't even keep my notebooks straight. (In my mind's eye, I see Mary Louise Parker, holding that slim book of her notes, the light in the darkness of her dead father's insanity.) I have just scribbled in them, concepts leading, not one to another, but in spirals, some darting out into philosophies of schooling, parenting, relationships, sports, then skittering back to the center for a minute. The mad workings of a gyroscope that's lost its grip. But here, here is my thesis, my proof.

We are not drawing lines.
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Punishment does not motivate, punishment only punishes.
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He sees where the line is, you see, it is the brakes he doesn't have.
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Teach him how to stop.
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They do not know how to stop, they want to slow before the line, the wall, but they cannot, they know that they must, they do not want to slam chest-first into the wall of your limits, your demands, your sand-line, your black in relief against your white, my gray.
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They want what you want.
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They want what I want.
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We all want the same thing, love, peace, calmness, order, respect.
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We all want quiet giggles and sleep at bedtime. We all want no one, ever, to fight. We all want dry sheets and underwear, folded and stacked, we all want dinner at dinnertime, glasses unspilled, plates clean and dripping on the dishrack in the dark.
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They want what you want.
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Attention, love, someone to look in their eyes quietly and with patience, waiting, listening.
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This is all there is: love.
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This is all there is: honesty. A consistent model. Expectations met, promises kept, showing, not telling.
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Parenting is about love, and teaching them how to be calm.
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This is the most important skill: how to find peace on your own.

In my philosophy, there is no preach, there is only practice. Do not practice what you preach; practice what you would preach. In my philosphy, we are teaching skills, and those skills are this: be calm. Be patient. Love each other, see each other, listen to each other. See that we do not beg for love and attention that we do not need. Meet each others' needs.

I must find the links, prove my philosophy, but the proof is far harder than the theory. I must stack one fact upon another, neatly showing how A = B and B = love and respect for all, but first, I must find A within myself, I must straighten every crumpled piece of our relationship's notebook pages, I must lie one upon another, I must organize my thoughts and present them with authority, with conviction, with love.

I have my theory. But the proof is in the parenting.

paying the bills

read my previous post . life with kids, and without a car, ignited . february 20 . 2009