It’s Hard to Believe, But I Am A Parent..

As I have mentioned before, I have a daughter, named Bella.  She is an only child so far, and she just turned 13 in November. I hope to bring her a sibling, except I need a little bit of help….

Yesterday I blogged on the hard truth that there is no book to read to ensure a strong and healthy marriage.  Well know that you know that, here’s the bigger problem: there aren’t any books on how to parent your own child.  It might not seem like a big deal, but trust me, I am a risk taker, a sensation-seeker, and being a parent scares the life out of every single cell in my body! bella bridge.jpg

Sure there ARE a plethora of parenting books available for in any language and for any age, but none specifically came with my daughter, Bella. She blew right into this world, and somebody forgot to pack her instructions.  As if being a parent isn’t hard enough, facing your child everyday, with a menagerie of unanswered questions, and yet to be documentmented situations, is really quite a daunting task. So far, in the case of my daughter, she has made it a most remarkable and joyous journey. Now that she is thirteen, I finally feel as though I am ready for another, even without an instruction book.

I am a firm believer that knowledge is power, so I have along the way of making it as a mommy, jotted down a few basic rules or guidelines that I believe every parent, or anybody who will someday be a parent, ought to know:

First, love unconditionally.  Your child is not your possession, he or she belongs to the world and it is your job to guide, protect, and help them grow their wings to eventually fly.

Second, as a parent don’t be your child’s biggest, worst, or even first bully. This is not easy. As parents we have desires and wants for our children, however they are their own beings.  You may not want a gay, transgendered, shy, annoying, (you get the picture) child. But we are privileged to parent what our child’s truth will unveil.  Be easy on them, if necessary get yourself some help, guidance, or maybe you feel you do need a shoulder to cry on.  That’s okay, just don’t make your issues with your child’s truth, their problem.

Lastly, try to limit the number of rules and the number of times you really need to say “NO” to your child. Parent by example, let them have as much space, and personal freedom as  you can, without exposing them to danger, or missing an important teaching lesson.

The last lesson gets tougher the older your child gets….every child will in their own time push the limits that you as a parent have gotten used to….my daughter has yet to cop an attitude, or make a face, or roll her eyes at us…it will probably happen but everyday it doesn’t is a bit of a gift.  So it came as a bit of a surprise this past summer, when my daughter like me, began to show strong tendencies for sensation-seeking through the physicality of her own body and mind.  One morning with  my guard down,  my daughter says just as plain as day, “I want to go bridge jumping.”  I thought, I couldn’t have heard her right. Bridge jumping is dangerous and almost always illegal. So I said, “What did you say sweetie, I don’t think I heard you right?” She kindly repeated her desire to start bridge jumping.  Stunned, I tried to play it cool…”Let me talk this over with your mimi” (my ex-wife).  Surely my ex-wife who wouldn’t ever break a rule and does everything by THE BOOK, whatever that really is, would have the answer to this…..I phoned her, she interrupted me half sentence,” I know already, I told her to call you.  You are the one who has told her all your stories.  Are you surprised that your daughter, a somewhat spitting image of yourself wants to do something dangerous and illegal?” Wow, okay so now I have the situation, and by mere genetics alone I am responsible for this? “Well,’ I said. ” I did in fact go bridge jumping when my parents were at work a couple of times.” It felt as though my daughter had pushed us ever so gently into unchartered parenting territory.

I continued to think with my ex-wife waiting for me to magically fix this situation and set our daughter straight, because of course bridge jumping was out of the question; or was it really?  I quickly discerned this was a parental game changer for sure.  I started to think out loud to my ex-wife, “Well if we say no she is just going to do it when she is at the age when she will have more freedom.  I did bridge jump, and yes their are signs that say it is illegal, but honestly I think we might have to pick our ‘no’ very carefully.” I continued, as the answer solidified in my mind and in that place as a parent, that only another parent understands. “I think we let her do it, and please hear me out. Please don’t say I am encouraging breaking the law, or doing something unsafe.  If we say no, she will end up doing it.  We won’t be there, she will keep it from us, and God knows what could go wrong.  If we say ‘yes’ we will be there, make sure it is safe, and Bella (our daughter) will continue to ask us to do things.” I gulped and braced myself for my ex-wife to blast me a new ass from the mere seven miles that separated us. “I think you are right, Corey” my ex-wife demurred.

I was shocked but as we continued the conversation, we both knew this was a “BIG” moment for all of us. We had to be smart we considered in unison. There will definitely be no’s, that no matter what we will have to uphold.  However, playing the ‘no’ card at this point didn’t seem to make the most sense and accomplish our main objectives: to keep our daughter safe, allow her to fly, and most importantly not to shout down our lines of communication just yet.

So  late one morning, last August on a Sunday, Bella put on her favorite kick around bathing suit, and we headed to the bridge.  We parked the car a ways from it, and then the three of us went to look over the edge of the bridge.  Per Camie’s insistence, she had had me go ahead of time and talk to the local fishing company about where it  was safe to jump, and obviously we had looked at a tidal chart.  After checking it out, and asking Bella if she was sure she wanted to do it, Camie left Bella and I on the bridge to go to get to her spot to take the picture.

I must admit, I was really excited for my daughter, but nervous nonetheless. We got her over the high guard rail, and I told her just to wait.  I crossed the bridge, and checked to make sure there was no boat traffic.  I came back to Bella and said, “Ready kiddo?”  She was so excited, she asked me to count to three, and on three it happened:  my beautiful daughter spread her wings and took her first major leap by herself into this brave new world.  It was pure bliss for the three of us, and now  as we meander around the coast as we often do, Bella is in search of that next bridge for this coming summer.