Tag Archives: change

Madame Leota’s Crystal Ball Says. . .

We are all time travelers: moving into the future second by second.

Which does us absolutely no good at all as far as planning for the future goes because we can’t see the future until it’s the present and then it’s too late to change it into anything but the past.

Ugh. Time travel makes my head hurt.

Anyway, I was reminded about this issue recently when I was discussing with She Who Must Be Sleeping Because It’s Dark After All a course of action regarding our oldest dude.

The actual specifics of the discussion aren’t all that important (well, they’re important to us and certainly important to him. However, for the sake of this bit here, it’s more the results rather than the cause.), but I found myself thinking of Robert Frost.

One of my favorite poets, Robert Frost wrote about “The Road NotRobert Frost, one of America's best poets, extolled the virtue of taking the road less travelled. Taken.” In exactingly precise words of immeasurable beauty, Frost talked about how we often face choices in our lives and we can think of them as forks in the road.

We take one fork, make one choice, and that forever shapes all that is to come. Take the other fork, make the other choice, and that also forever shapes all that is to come.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

So we sat discussing our course of action and because the substance of the discussion, the nature of the choice, was so important to Sarcasmo’s future, I’ve never wished more fervently to be able to see the future.

“Are we making the right choice? Will this work out in the long run? Will this be good for him or hurt him?”

This is something we parents have to think about every single day in almost every single decision. It’s not often such a stark choice, but it is there.

Do I make him eat those zucchini slices or not? If no, am I teaching him that he will get his way when he whines? If yes, will I be teaching him that bigger people can make smaller people do things?

The more I think about it, the more debilitating it becomes until I can enter into a state of analysis paralysis. For those of you not up on your rhyming aphorisms, analysis paralysis means you start thinking about something so much that you never make an actual decision. Which is, in effect, a decision. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

There’s an old saying in project management: There comes a time in the life of every project when you simply have to shoot the engineers and run with it.

Now, that’s not actually encouraging people to kill engineers. The issue is that engineers are never finished. They always see one more thing that can be improved upon. One more thing that needs just a little adjustment.

I like to think it’s something similar in parenting. We don’t know what we’re doing.

We don’t know how our actions today will affect the life of our child tomorrow.

All we can do is make what we think is the right decision and then work for the best outcome. Which is, in and of itself, a significantly frightening thought.

So, now that I’ve spent two days scaring the pants off you, I’ve only got one thing to say. . .

You’re not wearing any pants! Neener Neener Neener!

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Where’s Madame Leota When We Need Her?

The future is one of many undiscovered countries.

It’s one of those places we always wish we could see before we get there, but know we can only ever guess. The best guesses are based on taking what happened in the past and then projecting those activities forward in a logical manner. And, even then, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

The worst guesses about the future involve pulling something out of your somewhere the sun don’t shine area.

I bring this up because we, as parents, are tormented by the future. We understand that whatever decision we make today, right now, is going to have possibly significant repercussions in the future.

That is, if we force our young dude to take piano lessons, will that make him hate music for the rest of his life? If we make our young dudette take an art class, will that cause her to doubt her own creativity for the rest of her life?

Admittedly, those are some rather lightweight consequences, but I’m trying to keep it light here and not get into depth about cutting off, say, an adult son who is content to do nothing, go nowhere and regards college and work as things that happen to other people.

Spooky crystal ball is spooky, but not very forthcoming regarding the future and our effects on it.Just, you know, for instance.

Young dudes and dudettes act without thought for the consequences all the time. It’s one of the more obvious definitions of being a teenager: the thought that you’re both invincible and invulnerable.

A lot of times non-parents can simply do something because they want to do it and have no thought of the future. They can do this because, to them, the future is somewhere out there. It’s not a real thing. The future is, to them, something that might happen, but . . . eh, no biggie.

To healthy, financially stable young adults, the future isn’t really real.

As parents, we know the future is as real as the diaper we just changed or the screaming fit we just endured because we took away the television and forced a young dude to go outside and play.

We see the future every night when he or she goes to bed, think about the future and worry if it’s okay while asleep, and smile at it when it wakes up in the morning all grouchy and grumpy but still the cutest thing in the world.

Parents know that the future is not stable, that it can change. This is evidenced by the way our little dudes and dudettes continually grow and become almost completely different people over the years.

The future is as real as the look on your little dude’s face.

So we parents know the future is real, but here’s the thing, the reason why I’d love to have Madame Leota (the floating head in the Haunted Mansion’s crystal ball in Walt Disney World) on retainer: We’re terrified that we’re going to screw the pooch regarding our kids’ future.

Mostly because we — all of us parents — have absolutely no idea what we’re doing.

continued tomorrow

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Of Course That’s A Camera In Your Pocket. . . And You’re Glad To See Me

We’re raising the most overexposed generation in history.

Starting around five years or so ago, just about the time that cellphone cameras became good enough to produce things that resembled people rather more than they resembled colored blobs, parenting has begun to undergo a seismic shift.

Back in the good-old-days, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and I had to walk to school uphill — both ways — in the snow barefoot, while dodging alligators every single day, taking a picture of your little dude was a bit more of a production.

You had to get out the camera from the back of the closet, make sure there was film in the camera and it hadn’t gone bad. Then you had to make sure there was enough or it might run out in the middle of the photography session.

Once that was taken care of, it was off to find the perfect outdoor light because flashes back then were — at best — more inscrutable than instructive. Once the pictures were taken, you had to then wait until you’d finished the roll of film.

You’d take the exposed film to a camera shop, wait several weeks to have the pictures developed (without any touch ups or changes) and then eventually bring them home. If you were lucky, you got maybe one viewing of the photos. Maybe someone put together a scrapbook, but, once the pictures were in there, they weren’t coming out. Ever.

Cellphones, digital cameras and, most especially, the iPhone changed all of that. Suddenly, we had access to a camera all the time. Not only that, but we could take pictures anywhere or any time. Once it was taken, we could mess around with it, give ourselves mustaches, maybe change hair color or background or make it into a black-and-white picture. We could see it as many times as we wanted, send it to as many people as we wanted, do whatever we wanted as long as we wanted.

It was to photography what the free-love movement was to sex.

When I first started out as a parent, folks told me that we would take a bunch of photos of our first, much fewer of our next and, should we have a third, count ourselves lucky if we found one or two of that child.

Instead, we’ve got a lot of pictures of our first little dude. Of course. Not so many of our second son’s early years. Then, round about the time our youngest came along in 1999, things started to change. The number of photographs blossomed with the acquisition of our first digital camera.

Once we began to have good cameras on our phones, the number of photos slammed into an exponential growth curve.

Instead of it being a special occasion, now I take pictures all the time. Heck, when Hyper Lad and I checked into our hotel room when we went spring skiing, I took about ten photos of only the hotel room. Just to set the stage. In case I needed them for something.

It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even do much in the way of posing my subjects as I figure I’ll just start snapping away and eventually get the one I want without having to pose. Which is the good thing about digital iPhontography.

And the bad thing about digital iPhontography in that I have so many, it’s sometimes daunting to sit down and go through them all to find ones I want to save and see again.

Which is why all three of my young dudes flinch and start running away whenever I bring out the phone. They’re certain I’m going to start documenting them. Again.

And, for the most part, they’re usually right.

But the expense in time is well worth it. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent flipping through old digital photos, looking at my sons.

This might be the most overexposed, overphotographed generation in history, but I can’t make myself be worried. I love the idea that we’re going to be able to watch them grow up over and over again whenever we want to.

So, bring on Mr. DeMille because they’re ready for their close ups.

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