Winging it through parenting; Managing young adults the best we can

By Danielle Scroggins | Published Saturday, August 18, 2018

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Here we go again. August managed to creep up on us somehow, and it’s time to start the everyday routine of school.

As we gather our pens, pencils, folders, band instruments, art supplies, and footballs, I’m taking stock of what lies ahead this year, and I’m stunned.

I have a senior and sophomore in high school and seventh grader in middle school. They are all potty trained. They all know how to read. They can do math. They know how to do laundry and make sandwiches.

Most of the time, they say thank you. Somewhere in the midst of all the laundry, cooking, cleaning, field trips, family movie nights, arguments, Christmas mornings and a thousand other milestones, my kids turned from children into pseudo-adults.

It’s kind of scary because my husband and I aren’t exactly parenting experts, despite being on this journey for going on 18 years.

It feels like we’ve been winging it. We’ve asked friends for advice, read a few books and Twitter posts, and gone with our gut more often than weighing the pros and cons. I can’t tell you how many times, especially in the last year, I’ve said “I don’t know,” and then proceeded to make a decision.

On my daughter having blue hair for her senior pictures: “No, you have to have your natural color for your cap and gown pictures.” Secretly thinking to myself, “Right? I mean, I don’t know.”

On restricting Fortnite marathons: “I know your dad played Zelda for weeks upon end, but you have to stop after six hours.” Six hours seems like a lot, right?

On cleaning rooms: “I get two days a month that I can walk into your rooms and not want to cry.” I get that it’s their own space, but it seems like it should be clean now and again?

On eating on the couch: “We’ve had a couch picnic three days this week, today we must eat at the table.” I like couch picnics too, but don’t they have to eat at tables?

On cell phones in the car: “When you’re in the front seat, you can’t be on your phone. That’s a great time to talk.” As if they’d talk any other time than when I have them captive.

On sleeping in: “Everyone should be up by 10 in the morning.” Do they really need to become nocturnal over the summer?

On fighting with each other: “Hug it out.” Sure, they might hate it, but they need to feel the love?

On getting a personal Amazon account: “Sure. Link your debit card to the account and make sure you get prime shipping.” She’s going to college next year. I guess she can order online without me?

On driving to the Big City: “I think I should follow you the first time and see how you do.” How in the world do we just let them drive to Dallas?

On fashion choices: “Sometimes you have to look like you aren’t homeless. A collared shirt. Jeans without rips. Pants without elastic waist. Shirts made of some other material than athletic dry fit.” I know it’s not the 50s, but being presentable is still a thing, isn’t it?

On earbuds: “One earbud out at all times in my presence. You never know when I might need to talk or have wisdom.” Surely, I shouldn’t have to yell every time I want to talk to my children?)

On cussing: “Ya, no, I don’t think so. Not in front of us.” Maybe they cuss with their friends. Other kids cuss in front of adults. I don’t know. I just don’t think I’m ready for that?

On student planners: “You have to use something to organize yourself – your phone calendar, to do list, or an actual paper planner.” How else will they know how to do life?

On family bonding: “I get to breathe your air 30 minutes a day. Pick a show. Pick a seat. Pick a blanket and get cozy.” Thirty minutes a day isn’t too much to ask, is it?

On wearing pants: “You can’t sleep in jeans. You have to put on pants when people come over.” Literally two phrases I say all the time.

Everyday there is something new to consider, more questions to answer, more parenting to do. Things I never knew I would have to think about. It’s not teaching to share, use a fork, or use pencil, but it’s still teaching. It just might be teaching how to be a person. Yikes. I hope we’re doing this right.

Cross your fingers and say a prayer for us and all the parents starting this new school year with shiny new school supplies, schedules and milestones. We need the kudos. We need the thumbs up. We need the advice. Tomorrow there will be more decisions to make.

I have a friend that once called me a “free range parent.” I wasn’t sure what she meant at the time, so of course I Googled it. Google told me it meant encouraging children to function independently and allowing them to make decisions on their own. Sounds good, but still, I don’t know about that.

Danielle Scroggins is a Decatur resident, Decatur High school graduate, teacher and mother of three. She writes a monthly column, Life is Kid’s Stuff, for the Messenger.

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