One of the rules of parenting you don’t actually learn until you ARE a parent goes like this: What works for one of your children will not likely work for the other.
This is in spite of those wonderful books that began with Dr. Spock and have continued ever since; the ones that guarantee a perfectly behaved, well-mannered, even-tempered, empathetic genius whose first words are E=MC² if you follow their book, “The Do’s and Don’ts of Parenting,” or whatever.
Basically, once the little miracle is placed in your arms you are flying by the seat of your pants, hoping you haven’t permanently damaged him as you stumble through the first years of Baby Boot Camp.
Many parents have come to me at school and asked the same thing: “How can two children who come directly from the same gene pool be so totally different?” I can only shrug in empathy.
My daughter pretty much raised herself. From the minute she drew her first breath, she knew exactly what should happen and when, and clearly has seen no reason to change.
She was the ‘Type A’ personality at school, working and studying diligently for every subject. To this day, she has strong opinions on a myriad of subjects, and is quite able to defend them. On occasion we agree.
My son never saw a school paper he couldn’t postpone. As far as studying went, why kill yourself when you only need a 50%? I worried, pushed, cajoled, and prodded him through elementary school. Each September I would meet with the teacher, armed with coffee and muffins, as she shared her concerns about my son. I gave up in high school.
When I got calls from his secondary teachers they always started with, “He tries so hard but …”
How does a student fail high school music? I can tell you. You don’t show up. My response was, “Fail him.” Same with Math. He was three assignments behind “…but he tries so hard.“ I said, “He is not trying hard enough. Fail him.”
After two years of working, he joined Seneca College and got straight A’s in Small Business Management. A modern-day miracle.
And I discovered a new equation: interest = motivation.
Now that they are grown and successful people, I am so proud of them both. I can honestly say I even like them. They are wonderful people and fun to be with. I don’t even try to hide my smile as my daughter deals with a daughter of her own who is just like she was.
And, God willing, my son will have a child just like him.
Sarnia resident Marg Johnson is a retired Certified Child & Youth Worker who worked with behaviour children as an educational assistant for 15 years at the York Catholic District School Board.