THE BOOK HAS YET TO BE WRITTEN
Doris AC Johnson MA of Psy, ABA
When I was a girl, my mom taught me how to frost a cake, how to tie my shoes, how to button my blouse, how to zip a zipper, not to accept candy from strangers, and the difference between collard, mustard, and turnip greens. All lessons of value, right?
And then there was my dad who taught me how to skate, ride a bike, catch a ball, look both ways before crossing a street, how to toss a fishing rod, and to remember that we all sleep under the same blue sky. These things, I never forgot. I can still taste the excitement of amusement parks, the smell of the marigolds in my mother’s garden, and the taste of lollipops and gums drops. But that sweetness turned bitter when real life stepped in to teach me the more difficult lessons.
My parents read to me so many fairytales about the big bad wolf. You remember the Three Little Pigs…where the bad wolf went through great measures to terrify the pigs, to convince them with words of deception, and destroy what the pigs worked to build, and make them his next meal. The pigs came out victorious as they were able to run to shelter and cause his demise in the process. The moral of the story, aside from doing things right the first time so you won’t have to do it all over again…hard work is of benefit, was that you should be careful of those with intent to destroy, deceive and prey on you.
The same is true of Little Red Riding Hood. She was naïve in that she told the wolf where her grandmother’s house was located. He used that information to devise a plan to attack her even if it meant that he had to pose as her grandmother.
There were lessons in these stories, but my parents never broke it down the way I just did. They read these stories at bedtime as a means of entertainment and to possibly lull me to sleep. Which leads to my next point…They taught me what they knew…how they knew…and how they possibly learned themselves. They didn’t know everything just as I don’t know everything about parenting…just as you don’t know everything about parenting. And we don’t have the right to judge or apply meaning to why they didn’t love us the way we established in our minds that they should have. I have no right to inflict my expectations of how they should have handled me or spoke to me, and or invested in me. They used the tools that they had to build us up. Lowes and Home Depot were not put in place for them to stock up on disciplinary tactics, ability to nurture, instant problem solving, and dare I say, dealing with hormonal issues. There is a list on a parchment that defines what we believe our parents should have known to do differently, or better according to our inexperienced views.
Unfortunately, it is trial and error. As long as you are alive, you never stop learning and growing. Everything you will ever know does not stop as you embark upon your journey as a parent yourself. And a child, even if they are fully grown adults, must reach a level of maturity to understand that there is no script that you can follow verbatim. There is no cheat sheet. There is no study guide. You use what you have and learn as you go.
Someone took the time out to write these fables that we love so much, but no one has comprehensively written a book on parenting that suits the need of all endeavors in parenthood and the raising of children.
Now, at 49, I realize what the big bad wolf represented in those storybooks. And this right here is the closest thing I have gotten to a book on parenting!