If – just if, your kids had been raised in another place, or another time, did you ever wonder what life would have been like? “Milk the cow, fore ya git to school, Tyler.” (Or would you have named him Rufus?) Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? I’d like to think our boys would have adapted well regardless of their surroundings, although it is comforting to know they have had so many opportunities, activities and tools to make their Twenty-First Century lives great. But it still takes the influence and direction of a parent to make little Tyler or Rufus meet his potential.
You may no longer feel you have influence in your kid’s life, but it will always be your job to maintain balance. Too much activity is just as bad for a child as not enough. Too many tools offered ‘carte blanche’ will take them into an electronic Neverland that is hard to leave. But there is no such thing a ‘too much influence or time with them.’ When we visited China, over and over again, Chinese moms and dads would come up to Ron and I and say: “Luck – three very lucky.” In a country with a strict one-child policy, our eyes were opened to what we had been given.
We will never know what our boys might have turned out to be if they had been born as only children. Or if their brothers hadn’t teased them quite so hard, or knuckled down on them, or grossed them out with potty talk. But each of these assaults and interactions has helped make them the strong individual characters they are. And within the balance, our boys reached out to include their international brothers and sisters. Families, no matter how they are carved out, are the fiber of society.
Ron and I made certain communication was at the top of our list, always challenging them with a question or thought, overlooking an occasional contemptuous eye-roll. They know we are the boss. Even though we are proud to be from a place of democracy, the Hirn Family is run as a split dictatorship. Raising a child is tough stuff. But it is an opportunity you get to have for only a short time. Take what you have and give it all you’ve got. 24/7 and beyond!
Some people have looked at Ron and I with our wild and crazy boys and said: “Wow, you sure have your hands full.” One day I’m going to give them more than just a smile and a nod, and add: “Yeah, but you should see our hearts!”