Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Making Ends Meet

I have said it a hundred times and I will repeat it for anyone who cares to listen: Single parents are doing God's work. Whether you believe in an omnipresent Santa-kind-of-guy or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I am here to remind you that there is a reason that this whole parent gig was designed as a duo and not a solo.
Let's start with the comparatively simple chore of getting a child out of bed. Simple enough, from the outside, but let's take a closer look: After that initial thump at the end of the bed, there needs to be a series of calls to join the day. The hope that one simple reminder would be enough disappears quickly enough when the weight of Monday morning pushes young heads back to their pillows. The momentum of any closed system, one not affected by external forces, cannot change. Parents are that outside force. Like most parental tasks, it helps to keep a steady flurry of reminders going, and this is best delivered in tag-team fashion.
Whoever originated the "good cop/bad cop" schtick was cribbing from his or her mother and father. Not that one is particularly suited to either role, or that it couldn't be two dads or two moms, but having someone to offer to take the cuffs off before the beating gives a kid the feeling that somehow, there is hope. When it's just you and your son or daughter looks at you for what has to be the one right answer, there can be no equivocation. Why can't I get my nose pierced? Everyone else is!
That's why it's great to have a team. It's good to have someone in the huddle with you when you're looking at third and long. Parental negotiations are tedious because when they are done well, everyone comes away feeling like the conclusion was arrived at in a holistic way, not simply "because I said so." Even when that really is the bottom line. Having another voice in the mix helps hold off that eventual conclusion. The appearance of negotiation.
No advanced degree is required to understand the math that states that an extra pair of hands to pick up shoes and Legos and socks and whatever else may have hit the floor that needs to be retrieved. Cooking and cleaning are done by percentages, and having two parents allows attention to be paid to the small people who make the messes and eat the food and go to school. Not just he messes and the food and the school. The little human who counts on your good advice to get him or her to that place on time in one piece to start the cycle all over again.
I'm glad my wife is home.

1 comment:

Mrs. Id said...

Thank you for all of the double-parenting! It was so nice to come home to a clean house and a healthy, sleeping child.