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Tracy Briggs, Published December 30 2013

Parenting Perspectives: What I learned as a parent in 2013

Maybe it’s human nature. Every time December rolls around, we feel the need to recap the year gone by with Top 10 lists.

There’s the straight-forward “Top 10 News Stories of 2013” and the snarky “Top 10 Most Annoying Celebrities of 2013.”

Given that desire to look back before we move forward, I’d like to recap where parenthood has taken me this year. What little things have I learned by living with an 11-year-old and a 9-year-old? I looked through my columns from this year to refresh the old mommy noggin and here’s what I came up with.

1. “High School Musical” has been replaced.

Don’t even try to be cool by talking about the Disney Channel’s mega-hit movie from 2006 or the subsequent sequels from 2007 and 2008. That is an absolute lifetime ago to kids.

The latest rage is “Teen Beach Movie,” Disney’s nod to 1960s beach movies popularized by Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

We have been listening to the music for months, and my girls, together with some good friends, are even planning a backyard production of TBM once the ice melts off the swing-set.

So while you might still be tempted to “Getcha, Getcha, Getcha Head in the Game.” Don’t. Focus instead on “Going Surf Surf Crazy.”

2. There was a reason my daughters were making all that noise with my Solo cups this spring.

I seriously didn’t know what they were up to when I saw them banging those plastic cups on the table. They had a reason. It was called the “Cup Song.” If you’re not familiar with it, look it up on YouTube and be prepared to have it stuck in your head all day.

3. Today’s gym uniforms make everyone look like Lebron James.

This year marked the first time I had to buy a gym uniform for my child. While I might have hated my ugly unitard gym suit from 1970s Agassiz Junior High, at least our shorts didn’t go past the knee. Don’t they cease being “shorts” when they go to the calf? No fault of the school. I just hate that style.

4. The DARE program is wonderful in a million ways, but prepare for the fallout.

Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE, is a wonderful program put on by local law enforcement officers to assist our children in learning how to make good decisions. In our school it’s the fifth-graders who receive the training.

My daughter came home full of information about drug and alcohol abuse. It’s such a valuable program, and my husband and I are grateful she learned so much. But we weren’t quite prepared for the dirty looks we started to receive when we chose to have a glass of wine with dinner. We felt like two bootleggers at a temperance convention.

All was good in the end, as it lead us to teach her about moderation and responsibility.

5. Even children are puzzled by Miley Cyrus.

While pop-culture pundits had a field day analyzing the effect of Hannah Montana getting twerking nasty, we overlooked one thing: Kids are pretty smart.

My daughter saw news reports of Cyrus’s VMA performance and said, “Why is she doing that? That’s just stupid. I miss Hannah Montana.”

Our kids aren’t lemmings. They won’t mindlessly follow a one-time idol if they don’t like what that idol is doing.

6. My kids might never get my movies or music.

When the girls were little and my husband and I were forced to watch hours of “The Wiggles” or “Barney,” we looked forward to the day we could introduce them to some great entertainment from our era.

So this year, when we decided our daughters were old enough to watch “The Karate Kid” and an edited-for-TV version of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” we were disheartened when they became bored after a half-hour.

“Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?”

How can they not think that’s classic? I’m still holding out hope they’ll like “The Breakfast Club,” but I’m not optimistic.

As for the music I offer one word: Wham! They don’t get the musical genius that is George Michael and Andrew Ridgely. They didn’t even like their itty-bitty shorts.

7. When your child makes a new friend with a name from a song you love, try not to sing the song every time your child speaks of her.

Mark and I struggled with this one. My younger daughter has a friend named Veronica, which always reminds me of that 1989 song of the same name by Elvis Costello.

Worse yet, my daughter has another friend named Josie.

How are we not supposed to ask her if “Josie’s on a vacation far away?!”

8. I have concrete proof that I’ll be a wreck when they go off to college.

Because I am a giant mushball mom, I’ve always predicted that, like most moms, I’ll have a terrible time when my little chicks leave the nest. But this summer I had living proof.

My husband, whom I love dearly, cooked up a scheme to send our 9-year-old to Iowa for 10 days to hang with our relatives there. They’re wonderful people whom I also love dearly. But it didn’t mean I didn’t suffer from separation anxiety.

For the first couple of nights I even slept with her Sugar Babies yellow pillow because it smelled like her. My husband thinks I’m insane. I think I might be.

9. I love that they value traditions.

It’s pretty cool that this past Christmas they insisted that we bake peanut blossoms together and watch “White Christmas.”

They have loved “Chicks with Chicken Friday” and having Tutti Frutti or Dairy Queen to celebrate just about any important milestone or theater performance.

These memories are building the foundation of their childhood, and I look forward to the day when I’m old and gray and can hear them telling their children about the fun we had.

10. They are becoming awesome people. In fact, they always have been.

I remember reading something author and Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen wrote about her children in her essay collection “Loud and Clear:”

“When they were very small I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be.”

As each year passes, I love that my children are growing into their true selves. I see pieces of my husband and me in them. But they are unique and special individuals, and I’m so proud to have spent 2013 with them on this journey.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Tracy Briggs is a mother of two and an employee of Forum Communications Co. She can be reached at tracy.briggs@forumcomm.com.