Raising children is hard.   It doesn’t matter how many you have, what gender they are, where you live- parenting is just difficult.  But as with anything, every parent has specific challenges that they must face as they bring their child to adulthood.  Being a city parent- that’s sort of my cross to bare.

The Daughter has spent her existence on the isle of Manhattan.  Do you know what that’s like?  Let me give you the playground scenarios….

Scenario 1- Homeless man showers in the sprinkler at the park.  What do you wear when you shower?

Scenario 2- A “pretty woman” enters the park with her twins.  While all the Mom’s are trying to be blasé, one of the kids goes up to her and asks “Do you know Dora?”

Scenario 3- Apparently, drug dealers were leaving bags of pot taped to the underside of the water fountain.  What does that mean?  Twenty armed undercover officers raiding the park to apprehend the alleged drug ring.  At 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

This all happened during April of my daughters pre-k year.  When she was 4.  Literally the good, the bad and the ugly.   This is the life of a “middle class” urban child who lives in a “good” neighborhood.

So what was/is my specific parenting issue?

Trying to make sure my daughter is not too jaded.  To allow her to have a certain childlike innocence, while remaining tough and street smart.

To a large degree, I think I have achieved my goal.  She can navigate the transit system, she’s honing her inner radar as to when a situation just doesn’t seem right.  She knows not to leave anything valuable in her backpack, but to keep them in front of her.  She knows not to engage anyone who appears a little off – and is aware of our neighborhood shouters- like the man who curses at the mailbox everyday.  And she knows a thousand other ways to protect yourself as much as possible.

But she does have certain childlike qualities.  She can text with alarming speed and quote pop music lyrics.  Pretty Little Liars was a religion to her.  The break-up of Anna Faris and Chris Pratt almost sent her into a tailspin. She giggles with her friends, and pets about every animal she comes across and visits the adoption cats at Petco when she has a chance.  And when we were on vacation, she wanted to go to the Boston Tea Party Museum because she wanted to “throw” the tea over.  She wanted to go to “Plimouth Plantation” and she engaged with the reenactors and listened to what they said, because some of them are really quite knowledgeable.  She doesn’t find things like this silly or lame- she finds them charming, and hopes at least a few kids learn a little about history.  By seeing other teenagers at these places, I know she is a bit of a rare bird- because there was no eye rolling from her.

(Don’t think she’s an angel though- trust me- she may seem like a great kid- but she tests me at every turn.  Because she knows everything.  I mean- she practically wrote Wikipedia- that’s how well versed she is in EVERYTHING)

But this year she is about to face a different challenge- she’s what is known as a rising junior.  For a college bound child, this is the hardest year.  School doesn’t start until after Labor Day, yet I already see the stress on her face.  She has an assignment that is actually due on Monday- about 3 weeks before school officially begins.  And as I watch her trying to edit her well written evaluative essay from 3 1/2 pages to the required 3 – I can foreshadow how this school year will play out.  Hours spent studying.  Paragraphs being rewritten in an attempt to chop 50 words off of a paper. SAT books littering the tables.  Law Team notes piled on her bed.  Figuring out a costume for the required “Scarlet Letter” day.  Less sleep than she had last year- which was minimal at best.

I’m not sure how I’m going to parent her this year.  I know how badly she wants to go to a top college.  I saw her face when we visiting highly selective universities, and I know she felt like it was home.  I want her to reach for the stars…..but, I also don’t want to her lose sight of the small things.

So I’m going to try to get her to sleep a bit, stay hydrated (these are my answers to everything).  I’m going to insist she schedule in social time with her friends.  I’m going to make sure she watches U tube videos and “Riverdale”.  I’m going to pay attention to her, to make sure she has balance.  I’m going to let her yell at me.  I’m going to let her cry on my shoulder.  I’m going to make sure we stock just a little bit of chocolate, because I know you shouldn’t eat to feel better, but eating a piece of chocolate while studying is supposed to be beneficial.  I don’t know where I read that tidbit, but I’m sticking with it as sound advice.

And I’m going to hope there is just a little bit of childhood innocence left to get her through the next year and a half.



30 thoughts on “The Hard Part

  1. Sometimes we think children are feeling more stress than they are. My daughter told me the other day that when I worry about her, it “makes” her feel stressed, because she is actually SUPER happy and has it ALL under control. So, I have found the best way to be a parent is let children spread their wings, guide them and offer assistance when they need it while STILL (smile) keeping a close eye on them. I always kid my daughters that they are little birds that need to fly away from the nest and when they are ready they come back. 🙂


  2. I would think that the scarlet letter costume would be a cinch but perhaps it would be a bit breezy. 😉 Also on that note, did you happen to see the movie Easy A? It’s hysterical! Loved the post as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved that movie! First of all, Stanley Gucci and was it Patricia Clarkson? Perfect. And it was so real and clever. They’re supposed to do an artistic representation, but it’s supposed to be creative and inspired. Who knows what that means…..


      1. Please. My kid just finished an evaluative essay that was supposed to be written a style not quite essay form, but still compared/contrasted two novels using quotes……my house has not been a ball of laughs this week…..


  3. This is such a beautiful post. As a mother myself, I could feel your emotion through your story. That’s such a hard age. My son is 17 and in a similar situation, though he’s not sure what he wants to do. The pressures seem overwhelming at times.

    I hope that everything works out for her and believe that it will. Thanks for sharing this. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! 🙂 I’m learning now to kind of sit back and relax a little. It’s just hard when they get to be this age and they are becoming young adults. It’s almost surreal.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Lol, it’s crazy! It’s bizarre when they first start driving. Weren’t they just born yesterday? Time flies, but it’s so amazing seeing them make their own choices and become young adults. I guess it’s normal to worry a little bit too. I have 4 more to go… 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Everyone should have been raised by such a thoughtful parent. You can’t lose with endless hydration, and enduring a teenager’s antipathy for a bit always adds to your own humility score.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a great post. Your daughter sounds a lot like me when I was her age. I’m glad you’re going to stay on her about scheduling social time. That will help with some of the pressure I think. I’m not a parent. The closest I am is an aunt, so I can’t even begin to know what it’s like, but speaking from the other side of the picture, you’re doing a great job.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is so hard to know the “right” way to parent our children, but I think you have found the key: trust your instinct, pay attention, always be ready to listen to them and guide them when they need it. And it sounds to me as if you are doing a terrific job! Best wishes to your daughter as she navigates the difficult time ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

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