It’s probably not healthy, but I keep a running mental list of what I did well and what I could have done better in raising my kids.
My boys are 26 and 23, and they’ve done well. They both graduated from college, and they’re gainfully employed.
Firstborn son is working on his master’s in teaching while working full time, and I’m proud of him. Younger son is working for a coalition versus domestic violence, so that’s definitely a worthy endeavor.
I have minutes when I don’t think I did what I should have, which I usually think of when I’m eating with my younger son (I could have stressed table manners more, a check on the con adverse of my parenting skills).
I climbed into my older son’s truck, got back out and went to get a towel to sit on so as not to get animal hair on my clothes, and I picked up some empty food wrappers. I mentioned aloud that my husband and I should have been better role models for car care.
As I was cleaning out for last weekend’s garage sale, I went through stacks of children’s books that I’ve saved from when my boys were little. So lots of books. We ordered some through the mail; they bought them at school book sales and in stores. I brought them books from trips. And I bought hundreds from garage sales. I never said no to a book.
That is a big check mark on the pro adverse of what I did right in my parenting. We read at night, and it was one of my favorite things to do. I read to my older son when he was playing in the bathtub as a toddler, almost always King
Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, for one.
When they were growing up, after every birthday party or Christmas, I made them write thank-you notes. Neither was thrilled at first, but I insisted. In my family, not writing a thank-you note is like not taking a bath — it’s just unacceptable.
When they couldn’t write, they told me what to say, and I wrote the notes. As they got older, I’d put the note cards on the table and prod.
My younger son, especially, hated to write them. He usually would sign S.K. to shorten the time it would take to write his exhaustingly long name — Scott Keith.
As they got older, though, I would get texts and emails from family and friends mentioning the nice thank-you notes my sons had written for some gift.
A longtime friend of mine texted me a picture the other day of a thank-you note my younger son had written about 10 years ago after a trip he went on to Alabama with her family.
My husband and I, honestly, had forgotten about this trip. (Parent not paying attention to where kid goes, a check on the con adverse of parenting.)
My son thanked them and talked about his brand-new cat, Bacon, and apologized for going off-track.
She loved the note and kept it. Her dad had called her once to read the extra-nice note he got from my older son after a duck-
As we all know, thank-you notes are rare; I’m going to go out on a limb and say thank-you notes from teenagers are almost nonexistent.
Just a couple of weeks ago, my brother texted a photo of a thank-you note my younger son had written him to thank my sister-in-law and him for birthday money they’d sent.
It was classic Scott — a little irreverent but heartfelt.
The list in my head goes on, but it’s leaning toward the positive right now.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith
can be reached at 501-327-0370