My 10 year old Riley, like all kids, takes injustice very seriously.  I was talking to him about a recent injustice he observed (okay, I had contradicted myself, and he caught me…what of it?!) and I brought in the “Babies don’t come with an owner’s manual” quote.  The puzzled expression on his face prompted the following discussion:

Mom – “Well, babies don’t come with instructions as to how to raise them. Parents can only draw on their own childhood and the way they were raised, and read books by other parents who have raised their children, but even that isn’t perfect, because every new baby is unique.”

Riley – “Huh?”

Mom – Raising children isn’t like building legos – at least you have an instruction booklet that tells you how to build your legos.  I don’t have anything like that!  And, even having big brother first doesn’t make me a parent who automatically knows how to raise you – you are different from Evan.”

Riley – “So, it’s like when I go to the lego box, and just build something from my imagination without any instructions?”

Mom – “Yes! Don’t you start building sometimes, and attach a piece that just doesn’t feel right, then take it off and try another piece that fits better?”

Riley – “Yeah, lots of times! And, most of the time I don’t know what I’m building except that it is something that flies or is a creature, so I just make it up as I go along and see what it becomes.”

Mom – “That’s exactly like being a parent, only with living things that have their own ideas of what they want to become, and say ‘I don’t want that piece there, I want it here!'”

Riley – “Oh, that must be hard.”

Mom – (Sigh…I feel better now)

As a consequence of this conversation, I have a new motto for parenting:

Having a child automatically makes one a good parent just as having Legos automatically makes one an Engineer!

Or…having a stove automatically makes one a Chef!
Or…having a keyboard automatically makes one a Writer!
Or…having a piano automatically makes one a Virtuoso!

Take your pick…

Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom