I am currently listening to the most fascinating conversation. This blond haired guy is telling this much larger companion about the hideaways of local gangsters, wondering aloud about the exact number of gangsters in the area, before being shut down.
“Gangsters just kill each other off,” he says.
“Why do gangsters kill each other off dad?”
The blond haired “gangster” expert was a four year old, mop-topped blond kid and the bigger guy wasn’t bigger by weight alone; he was just a much larger presence than his four year old compatriot; as most dads are of their sons. This kid talking about gangster in such a blunt way and being talked back to by dear old dad with the same level of frankness is a bit disturbing. When I was growing up the discussions with dad were about the most elemental of things: right and wrong, be nice to your brother, and don’t talk back to your mother. I’ve got to say that I couldn’t have ever imagined having a coffee with dear old dad at Starbucks when I was four years old; but maybe that’s just my individual experience.
It seems that parenting in this day and age is a lot more nuanced thing than it was before. I’m going to have to guess that’s either because parents are having kids a lot younger (and they don’t want to isolate their kids from them as they were from their parents) or it’s because parents are waiting a lot longer to have kids and they pass off the parenting job onto someone else as they go off and continue their lucrative careers. In either event, it’s a troubling reality.
Parents Too Young: I know a couple of young parents; Mike and Lori; and they each have kids (not with each other) who seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Mike has three kids and he and his wife work really hard trying to coordinate their work schedules and keep some semblance of normalcy to their lives. With Lori it’s the same thing; she and her husband are very private and have done everything they can to keep a sane and happy home, despite the fact that Lori’s husband is in the Navy and the family has had to move around multiple times. It doesn’t matter that the exterior is crazy; everything which goes on in both of these families (from what I know of them) is wonderfully normal. I’m a little off-put by these parents who roll into Starbucks with their kids, sit them at the table, and talk about all manner of adult things which people talk about in coffee shops. Like the prevalence of gangsters in society or their neighborhood hangout (why are kids in this Starbucks with the gangster again?).
Parents Too Old: The other end of the spectrum is the parents who are just too old; why do you do this to your family and yourselves? It seems to be just greed or callousness or blindness to the saggy reality of your life which are responsible for this, but why must this be?
Parents Just Right: Okay so there is no such thing as the perfect time or place or age or situation for anything, but you’ve got to really try and get it right; don’t you? This is the next generation we’re talking about; not just some toy for you to get and tire of after a period. If your child’s in daycare 10 hours a day or your child’s collecting unemployment with you at Starbucks; neither of these are good situations. And while I can imagine that raising a kid can be really hard, this seems to be even more reason to try and get the timing right so you’re not asking your teenager to change your Depends or asking your nine year old to borrow rent money.