Monday, July 14, 2008

Parenting Tips - SHOW UP!

If you want to be a good mother, all you have to do is show up. Well, probably not ALL, but it's a big part. Some claim that 90% of success is simply showing up. So, good mother, father, sibling, friend, body-slave, get it. Just show up. Showing up is another of the cornerstones of my parenting philosophy, and will be huge when I write my HOW-TO PARENT book. I didn’t know I had a "parenting philosophy" until the other day when I considered Total Physical Exhaustion. Our Young Son (who wants a snappier moniker) is almost of driving age, the youngest of our brood, so I have a little bit of experience. (Someday, I will divulge the secret of extricating your kid from a busted party before the authorities make it official that he or she was there.)

Experience does not always equal success, but let's just go with this for a bit, shall we?

I Googled the "90% is showing up" phrase, and its variations , rather than inadvertantly plagiarize, which is a crime. I found a LOT of articles about parents not showing up for parent teacher conferences. You should do that. Take it from me, I've had plenty of them.
The next parenting cornerstone, after Total Physical Exhuastion (the best thing ever) is SHOW UP. Simply show up at the programs, show up at the games, show up at the recitals, at the field trip, the birthday party, home for dinner. Just BE THERE!
Pause here, you parents of the little ones - you must think I'm crazy. You LOVE the adorable music program where your firstborn dresses up like a bee and sings three songs with vague hand motions. Or the mighty-mite soccer game, where precious children pick clover wearing little bitty shin guards. Take pictures and make videos. Enjoy the shortness of the event. Get back to me in a few years...or 367 games, whichever comes first.These parents are good examples of people who have showed up. Wonder why? Oh...the bus to the beach. At 5:30.First, as your children know, most of the stuff you have to show up for is inherently boring. Showing up is not for your entertainment. (I personally take a crossword puzzle.)
Showing up is the single best way you can tell your kid that what he or she is doing is more important that what you might be doing. Don’t give me any backtalk about a multi-million $$$ global deal or possibly brain surgery being more important than a 6th grade flute recital. At the moment of the flute recital, the global deal is paltry and the brain surgery can happen tomorrow.
Don’t limit showing up to the big stuff - I mean seriously, everyone goes to graduation. Did you go to the 8th grade science fair? You simply must show up for the boring and pointless stuff. Nobody wants to be the ONLY kid whose parents didn’t bother to come to Meet the Teacher Day, which seems really big when you are not yet really big.
BigD works in a town other than the one we live in, so he’s not here a lot. He, in effect has a huge PASS on showing up. But when he’s here, he HAS TO SHOW UP. Thus, we were breathing diesel fumes and watching the sunrise in the parking lot at 5:30 am when our young ones went to the beach. Common sense would say it takes only one really sleepy parent to take 2 teenagers to a church parking lot. NOT SO. Not only did we show up, we showed up together. People may think my children are poor little orphan children. Maybe pitiful latchkey children, whose parents never come home from their fabulous careers. Many think I am an impoverished single mother, who scrubs floors by night and waits tables by day…..OK, I don’t know what they think. (also, don't care). But I DO know that when we do make an appearance, it heads off any idle chatter . And if we ARE there, we can HEAR the gossip. About us.Another reason to show up is that you can actually talk to your kids about what went on in those little sideline chat-groups. It’s interminably boring to try to pry the information from their tight little lips."What were you and Stargazer talking about that was so funny?""Who where you and Shinsplints texting during the never-ending speeches?” If you were NOT there, your questions are
  • “Who did you see there?” the answer is always NOBODY.
  • “What did you have to eat?” NOTHING
  • “Who did you gossip about while whispering and laughing?” WE WEREN’T LAUGHING.

  • “Did you see Mr X, did he look cute?” STOP IT, MOM.

See, it works better when you are actually there.Another reason is to show up is because they might get conked on the head, or fall of the stage, or break an ankle or something, and another "adult" will decide whether or not to call the ambulance. Please obey the ‘no moms on the field' rule, which is actually 'MOM, don’t even think about moving if I go down' rule. Only if they start calling for a doctor can you twitch your eye. Should your kid go down, even if it’s only for a minute, the whole body of parents starts craning their necks to see where you are. I am usually doing a crossword puzzle, and don’t know there’s a problem until it’s resolved. But I was there, dammit.If it’s something like a 4 hour awards ceremony, at which your child is not getting an award, the benefit is obvious. You can commiserate about how boring it was. “Was it just me, or did Ethel Haystack’s name get called 86% of the time?” And you can bet Ethel’s parents aren't even there.Also, you can notice who has a new tattoo. . .or piercing, or who has braces ON or braces OFF, or a new purple streak in their hair, or whose mom has been visiting Dr. Chester Emplante and Nurse Beaux Toxicicity.

The coach doesn't know what parents are there and who's not there, so there's no brownie points to be gained or lost. These moms must be looking for someone who's 'on the way" because they're looking at the parking lot. I told you to expect some boredom.Repeat after me: "If you are there, people are less likely to talk about you." Of course, this mom showed up at her daughter's ENGAGEMENT party, so everyone was talking about them anyway.They could be planning a trip or something. Or their child's future. You must be there to take pictures. Especially these stalker type pictures.
Lots of time to talk about all the kids. Find out who has been invited to what party, accepted at what college, dating so-and-so, what anything. OK…it’s a good place to pick up gossip. But I didn’t tell you.BUT, you are still saying to yourself that it doesn’t really matter if you're there. I have this conversation with myself EVERY SINGLE TIME. WHY do I have to go to the awards program? one more swim meet? the parents prayer meeting? Why? It’s hot, I’m tired, I’m busy….OK, It’s BORING.I have been going to these things for 20 years. Not kidding, 20 years. They are always the same. You are RIGHT. I am RIGHT. It doesn’t matter to most people, honestly it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter to me if you miss the tennis match. Or art show. Or the last day of camp awards. It doesn’t matter to me, or the teachers, or the coaches or most of the other parents.But it DOES matter to your son or daughter, or both, even if they act like they don't even remotely know you or have any tenuous connection to them.

So…just SHOW UP.
We try to get a grandparent there too, if possible. Or a sibling. Double points.


Val @ Stinky said...

True so true! An active parent is a well informed parent!

Thanks for visiting....stop on by....I have a little something for you!

Rue said...

Hi Ann :)

I believe in TPE and just showing up too. No one wants to go to these things, but I know that my kids want us too, even if we are embarrassing ;)


Anonymous said...

I love it! and it is oh so true...somedays I feel like I am going in a million directions but when you see the smile on your childs face when they see you in the audience it makes it so worth it!

Anonymous said...

This is very funny. (Oh please god, I hope it was meant to be. :o)
I think things are a little different here in the Uk but the bottom line is the same. Show Up. I always have done and I always will... for as long as I have to.

kikibibi said...

Great post and great advice! I hope you don't mind that I added a link to this post on my blog. It was just very appropriate to my subject.

Thanks for your words of wisdom. kk