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I Don’t Know What’s Best For Kids

IMG_8182My son failed Algebra II Honors 1st Semester, so he had to retake it online this summer. So far his grades have been blisteringly average and he’s studying for the final right now. My son’s heart’s not really into Algebra II Honors. In fact, he doesn’t give a damn about Algebra II Honors. All he wants to do is play video games and interact with the world through the prism of his iPhone.

One of the hardest things about parenting for me is that I don’t really care how well my son does in Algebra II Honors but I frequently wear my self-imposed Dad hat and act like it matters. And when I’m lecturing my son about how important it is that he do his very best job in Algebra II Honors, he agrees with me, nods his head, and says what he thinks I want to hear while his body language begs me to stop talking.

And I’m not offended because I remember. Do you remember? When all the stuff your parents thought and said lost all its gravity, sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher, and the bulk of your interest resided only in when it would end? No? Then you were a very good child. As soon as my Dad launched into stuff about responsibility and hard work, I took refuge in thoughts about boobs and pot.

My problem is that I don’t really know how important Algebra II Honors is or how much of my son’s quality of life depends on it. Or college even. Isn’t that absurd? Of course he has to go to college, right? There’s a simplistic conventional side of me that believes this but, honestly, I mostly understand that I don’t know what’s best for my son. I’ve never been a hip parent who reads books about how to produce great kids. There’s a terrific arrogance in the notion that our kids will turn into super great and awesome people if only we do all the right things. This also implies that they’re not already super great and awesome people, which they are, and they’re not going to continue being super great and awesome people, which they will, unless we construct environments wherein Algebra II Honors and college are presented as Ultimate Values.

Little dude wants to play video games and goof with his iPhone. Do I really need to be like every previous generation of Dads and condemn my son’s generation while glorifying my own? When I was your age, we used to go outside and ride bikes! When I was your age, we used to play real sports with our real bodies! When I was your age, we used to talk to people’s FACES! Yeah, you know what? Who cares? That’s what my son thinks and I think it with him. So there’s a bunch of jackoff studies about how our kids aren’t like us when WE were kids as if that’s never happened before in the history of passing the torch.

But they’ll be selfish bipolar narcissists with social anxiety who don’t know how to interact with nature and real people and SHUT UP AND GIVE YOUR KID HIS iPHONE. They’re growing up in a world that’s changing faster and faster than the world has ever changed, it’s not going to stop, and no one cares how much learning to canoe contributed to your development. Good for you and your boring canoe. We have to acknowledge, at some point, that our kids have something inside of them, an inner compass, something akin to what the ancients called a soul, that knows what’s best for them. It’s leading them. It’s guiding them. And it’s more connected to the world and the flow of where the world is going than our arrogant nostalgia for our childhoods.

I hope my son passes algebra. I hope he goes to college. But who cares if he does? I don’t know what’s best for kids. There’s something inside of him way bigger than my ideas. May he learn to listen and obey.
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Read more from me at Black Hockey Jesus.

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