“If you were to die in a fiery bus crash, how would you want your mini-ions raised?”
That was the essential idea behind a question my sister-in-law and brother-in-law asked us recently. It made a lot of sense to ask and I’m embarrassed I hadn’t put more thought into it before. In my previous life in advertising, you were always making sure to document your work to be “bus proof” (a few positive people always threw out, in case you won the lottery – but being hit by a bus seemed more likely in NYC).
So, S and C, here’s my take on it.
First and most obviously, I want them to know they are loved. Unconditionally.
I had a previous boss tell me, when I told him I was pregnant, to approach every situation with patience and love and you’ll always do the right thing. As you approach parenthood and if you have to take care of my mini-ions, those are words to live by.
The parenting style that we’ve felt resonates the best with us is RIE, founded by infant care specialist and childcare pioneer, Magda Gerber. It’s summed up well in this paragraph by Kate of Peaceful Parents Confident Kids
“my children are capable, unique individuals worthy of my respect completely resonates with me. Understanding that who they are and how they act, today, right now, is perfect for them at this time, has allowed me to let go of my preconceived ideas of what I think they should be doing and allowed them the space to grow in confidence, paving their own paths under my gentle guidance.”
Next, S, I want you to know you are beautiful. Don’t just give me a little smile, duck your head and say, “thanks”. But KNOW IT. Know that the things you may want to work on are beautiful too, in their pre-worked on state. You don’t need to go on diets, hide body parts or be ashamed, because those parts make you the wonderful person you are. Of course you’ll want to be healthy to keep up with my mini-ions and your own precious darling, but I never want you to look in the mirror unhappy with what you see. Because even if you think you never do that in front of the mini-ions, they’ll pick up on it and start to worry about themselves. Whenever you look in the mirror, look back at yourself how they look at you. Even now as their loving aunt, they think you are spectacular. Own being spectacular.
You both hold a lot of dear husband’s and my secrets, but C, I think you hold the worst ones. And have a long memory. It’s my belief that the photo albums from college should disappear – dear husband may disagree. If you find them when going through the wreckage of our lives, you get that choice. Any of our secrets could be learning opportunities, as they were for us, tempered in moderate tones.
C, if it hasn’t happened yet, fix up the mustang with both mini-ions. Our hope was that when they both became driving age, they would both work with Dear Husband on their own junker that became their jewel. Remember that every task that Mini-ion #1 can do, so can Mini-ion #2. And vice versa.
From an education standpoint, if I’m not able to start a school, I want you both to read, The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, particularly about primary education. Then you’ll understand why I’m trying to start a school and why our current public school isn’t really the best option.
It doesn’t have to be a private school, but I want them to be in a learning environment that is mini-ion led, not creating factory workers. If you find a public school that gears that way, great. If its a co-op school (like I’m hoping to create), great. Homeschool? Sure. Just mini-ion led.
From a higher ed perspective, hopefully the bubble bursts! If they aren’t ready for college after graduating, that’s fine. But we’d like to see them both pursue “trades” like we did. Where you have a definitive major and career path coming out of school.
And if college isn’t for them, that’s fine too. Just give them the guidance to be independent. The idea that Maria Montessori put out about not doing for a child what they can do for themselves is perfect.
Religion. You know that I’m a lifelong Episcopalian. I believe in the direction the Episcopal Church is currently moving, that God loves us all. You know that Dear Husband believes in science. The way we’ve navigated it in our house is that we both respect what each other believes, and will always try to give equal time to both ideas. If they want to explore either of those or even a third option in greater detail, that’s fine too. But until they are ready to explore those ideas thoughtfully, I have found a community of people at my church who love them. Please keep them in that community.
They come from two great families, who love them tremendously. Keep them in those families. Update both of those families on the smallest milestones, because those families are itching to know about them. Help them explore their heritage, taking them to the places their ancestors have been.
Give them a safe place to fail. To try and sometimes succeed, but even when they don’t, that it is ok to try again and fail again.
Please, please – Go Army! Beat Navy!
S – you said it to me well, that this blog is really a love letter to my mini-ions. Here is a link to print it for them to have.
Tell them how much we loved them. How our lives became so much better with them in it. That we loved snuggling in bed with them in the morning and encouraging their independence throughout the day. If we aren’t there to tell them every day that we love them, that we are watching over, every day, loving them.
Is that enough? It doesn’t feel like it ever will be.