All Grown Up

Today I would like to advocate a new concept: open parenting.

I’m sure you have heard about open adoption. Open parenting is a little different. O.P. is when your kids grow up and instead of them learning from you, you learn from them. I find that I am learning from my kids all the time.

When it comes to parenting, we were not Calvinistic at all. We were total Armenians. All the results totally depended on us, or so we thought. This made us determined to do it all Just Right.  The truth is that no one does it all Right, and we had funny ideas about what Just Right was. Needless to say, despite our flagrant Armenian style parenting, our kids turned out quite well, but each one is very unique. The kids kind of remind me of those trees that get planted next to funny things and just keep growing in place anyway and moving whatever the object was or absorbing it into the bark until it is no longer distinguishable.

I have three grown children (28, 26, 24). They are great people. Because of O.P., it is my turn to learn from them. Tonight I ended up grocery shopping with the 26-year-old middle child. I was surprised to see how much she loves vegetables and healthy food and meat. (She is a very good cook.) Shocked would probably be more accurate, but with happy mixed in with it. She is a much better shopper than I am. (For instance, she never buys potato chips ever. I buy them every week. In fact I usually have to buy three kinds of crunchy junk food things plus high quality crackers which also crunch. I buy an insane amount of soda. She drinks only water.) They do not eat out much. My only boast is that I keep canvas reusable grocery bags, and she uses plastic. She is filled with grocery store and other kinds of virtue. This child reminds me to be content and that getting B’s and losing my 4.0 this semester was very “meta.” I wish I had her good judgment and common sense. She has a real knack for being right there when people need help. She reminds me of the Tolkien blessing: “May you always be where you are most needed and least expected.”

I visited the 24-year-old youngest child last month. We had fun doing things for about a week in Portland and at the Oregon Coast. She always reminds me not to worry so much about WHAT PEOPLE THINK. I went grocery shopping with her as well. She bought enough stuff to make a Mexican dinner with beans and soft shells and lots and lots of grapefruit. I do not think that she bought enough food to feed a person for a week. It is important to her to use her own grocery bags that fold up and fit in her purse. She is lactose intolerant and loves to eat just one real meal each day and snack the rest of the time. She does not love cooking. I think her roommates do all of the dishes. She loves ethnic food and would stop at a McDonald’s only if her car ran into it. She is not a big fan of meat, but eats it from time to time. One morning for breakfast, she put a bunch of grapefruit in the blender and did not put in any sugar and drank that for breakfast. I had something else that was more food-like. I took us out for breakfast one day at a great place that is known for hash browns. She put Sirachi sauce all over hers. I felt like Gollum in this scene. She put up with my terrible snoring, shared her bathroom and drove me all over showing me cool stuff and places I would never find on my own. She teaches first graders in Sunday School and has hysterical stories. I cannot stand teaching other people’s kids.

Our 28-year-old oldest son likes to cook and bake. He and his wife trade off on that job or they eat out. He likes to make home made things that I would rather just buy like bagels or pizza rolls or hand cut french fries. He has come to my house twice in the last six months and made the entire dinner. His favorite meat is Bacon. He doesn’t really care for vegetables much other than Sweet Potato Fries. They invited me over for his birthday, and he cooked the whole dinner from scratch. He makes great Red Lobster biscuits without a mix. He does not believe in cook books and gets his recipes off of the internet. He is continually amazed at all the things I do not know about computers and everything else. I doubt that we will ever shop together unless we happen to be together right before the Zombie Apocalypse begins and join the mob at Winco. He gives very pragmatic advice, solicited and unsolicited, and always Avoids Extremes in political and spiritual ideas, but he never avoids caring about people.

I am very thankful for my kids, just as they are, all grown up, but often I feel like that tables are turned, and at this point in life I feel I have more to learn from them than they can learn from me. It is a funny place to be, but I like it.

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