I do not claim to know anything about child psychology, but I do know that there is an accepted time in life when a child comes of age, which usually corresponds with the realization that his or her parents are not all-knowing. But some time in the past two weeks, I have come to an even better realization: My parents are virtual fonts of information. Their collective life knowledge is awe-inspiring. Sure, I have always listened to what they have to say, but I haven’t always followed their advice (only to discover that I should have), and I haven’t always really appreciated what their knowledge means to me and, really, in an entirely self-centered way, means for me. I can learn so much from them — why haven’t I dipped into this knowledge before?
Now, before you think I’m sucking up to my parents on the internet in hopes that they’ll buy me/give me something, everything I have discovered recently was from me bringing up subjects that they both know a lot about, and then actually listening, not just “ok mom” listening, to them. Try it some time. You’ll be amazed at what your parents have to say. It’s almost like they’re real people who have lived for twice (or way more) your life span.
I’m currently reading a book called Cinderella Ate my Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. It has been on my to-read list for ages because of my, um, feminist kick? Feminist lifestyle? General interest in equality? Anyway, I also have an interest in child rearing since I’m a perfectionist and I don’t think that by the time I have kids in 10 years I will be even remotely prepared for it (is anybody?), so I may as well start reading the books now.
So I brought up the book to my mom on my walk home (which takes 45 minutes, so we had plenty of time to talk), and as she talked, I realized that she is an absolute genius when it comes to kids. And no, I’m not just saying that because she raised me (ba dum dum chssh). I mean, she really knows her stuff. She has read the books, done experiments (just look at my sister), and examined her own soul so thoroughly that I am not sure I would trust even a world-renowned child psychologist over her. It’s honestly kind of intimidating. I’m afraid I could never reach her level of patience and knowledge.
I am similarly intimidated by my father, who is an electrical engineer. When I was growing up, engineering meant less time with my dad. Maybe that’s why it took me way too long to realize that engineering is what mother nature intended me to do. At any rate, the fact that my father has a PhD means that he has endless experience with exactly what I’m going through as a master’s student.
This afternoon, I called my parents in a fit of frustration, needing someone to vent to. For two months, I have been trying to get my research off the ground only to have a huge roadblock in place: we can’t get the #$@*&% concrete to mix. I don’t want to get into the technical details of this concrete, but suffice it to say that it is notorious for being difficult. Yet we weren’t even getting to the frustrating stage that other researchers have experienced. Today, however, we discovered a tiny little mistake that led to the mix finally working. That tiny mistake? One of our mix ingredients was the wrong one. It is nobody’s fault, but it had been my first instinct to check whether it was the wrong one because something seemed off about it…but, since I was new to this, I assumed I just didn’t know enough.
At any rate, my father knew exactly what to say to make me realize that this was not a failure, but rather a learning experience.
Really, guys. Parents. They’re worth talking to.