While being a pediatrician can give you a lot of training in how to care for children, you’d be surprised at how much it doesn’t prepare you for being a parent. I spent the first few months of my oldest’s life using my time in clinic to pepper my co-worker (a real doctor) with questions about what to do with a baby. And even that was easy, compared to what was to come.
At some point, and it’s hard specifically to say when, your toddlers become actual people. They start revealing knowledge you know didn’t come from you. They start talking to their friends about things you don’t understand. And they start asking real questions.
When they were very little, I decided – for better or worse – to answer their questions honestly, no matter how hard they were. So far I’ve been doing a pretty decent job. My wife gives me strange looks when I’m going on about how refraction of light makes the sky blue. But I feel a particular sense of pride when my kids debate the ability of water to remain suspended in the air to create clouds.
My oldest loves to quiz me about the past. My youngest loves to ask me questions about my day. But it’s my middle child who asks the stumpers.
He wants to know about death. He wants to know about God. He wants to know why people look different. Why bad things happen. Why people act the way they do.
I like to think I’m answering those questions well. I like to think I’m doing right by him. Most of the time, I think I am. But I recognize that harder questions are coming.
I saw this video over at The Daily Dish.
StoryCorps, “an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives,” makes its first animation:
Joshua Littman, a 12-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome, interviews his mother, Sarah. Joshua’s unique questions and Sarah’s loving, unguarded answers reveal a beautiful relationship that reminds us of the best—and the most challenging—parts of being a parent.
I am simply in awe of this mother. Her ability to answer very difficult questions with complete candor, and the obviously strong relationship that allows her to do so, is inspiring.
It makes me want to be a better parent.
UPDATE: Seems many of you liked this as much as I did. Here’s a link to Sarah Littman’s blog post about it.