Oh, crap. All those Baby Einstein videos I bought aren’t going to guarantee David’s admission to Harvard? Oops – guess I’ve been duped.
(David who rarely wears a shirt unless he’s leaving the house)
I think Emma was about five when I realized that there’s a reason why most kids don’t get into Harvard, and it’s not that they didn’t watch enough PBS, or they watched too much Barney (thank God those days are over), or they weren’t read to for 20 full minutes a day, or they didn’t play enough Candyland (blech. I hate Candyland.) In many ways, they are who they are from the day they’re born, and the best we can do as parents is stay out of the way and let them be who they’re going to be. (I think Anna Quindlen once said something like that. I know I didn’t make it up.)
It’s nice to be an experienced parent. To not have to get stressed out about how many sight words David knows. Or whether Margaret knows all her colors. Or whether Emma passed her most recent Algebra test. (Ok, let’s not go there.) There are so many times that I want to say to young parents, “Lighten up. It’s all going to be ok.” (Actually, I do say it sometimes. Not in so many words, though.)
I know, I know. I’ve had my moments. I didn’t exactly learn all of the lessons the first time around (or maybe I learned them and forgot them in the 10-year gap between David and Emma.) Some of you remember my stress over David not knowing his colors. (In one of my weaker moments, I actually bought colored plastic blocks and drilled him every day for a week before I gave up and figured he’d learn them at some point.) And my stress over whether he would actually be fully potty-trained by the time he went to pre-school (when he was ALMOST FOUR.) (But guess what? He’s six now, and he goes in the potty every time! And all my stress about it didn’t make any difference!)
I’m not saying that it doesn’t make any difference what we do as parents. It’s possible to royally screw them up. But I think that most of us overestimate the long-term effects of the mostly minor daily decisions we make as parents. Most of it just doesn’t matter.
Now if I could only find those Baby Einstein videos. Where did I put them?