“Mom, can we listen to ‘Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?’”
“Umm, sure,” I replied, as I turned on the My Fair Lady soundtrack.
Stefan’s request caught me a little off-guard. I had visions of those words popping out of his mouth at preschool or Sunday school. I hope all of the adults in his life are current on their classic musical lyrics.
It’s funny how things seem different when you have kids. You listen to music with different ears and see movies with different eyes. All parents have had the experience of sitting next to their little ones on the couch watching TV and thinking, “I do NOT remember that part!” (Home Alone, anyone? I certainly had forgotten about the girly magazines in that one! My kids did not rewatch that this Christmas.)
A lot of little things, of course, go over a child’s head. When I was young, I thought that in Rocky Mountain High, Colorado, the friends around the campfire, “everyone says hi!” and that Leroy Brown was the baddest man in the whole DOWN town. Maybe it was just me, but I think that’s a pretty common experience.
But then there are the things that they DO notice. Those small things that I thought for sure would just slip right by them. And that’s when being a parent makes me grow up, again.
The bar is raised when you’re parenting. You’ve got this little human (or a hoard of little humans) watching you, listening to you, and learning from you. It’s terrifying.
And that’s why as many people who can have kids, should. The rest should get involved with other people’s kids. It’s an important part of the human maturation process. Nothing puts one’s habits and choices in clear focus like having an impressionable child examining every move. Go ahead, try explaining away some small indiscretion. Children will have none of it. And if you do convince them that your compromise was necessary under the circumstances, your conscience, as you look into those trusting eyes, will condemn you.
It’s the kid filter: Parenting cleans up the parent’s life. It’s not just about raising the kids; it’s about not being a kid yourself.