Don't Eat Rocks.

They say the best thing about writing is having written. And the best thing about hiking is having hiked. But the best thing about parenting is not having parented, but parented in what I hope may be the best way possible for my kids, and for me.

When Riv was little, having parented in the best way possible meant I kept the rocks out of his mouth and the avocados in it. Now the best way isn't as obvious as "don't eat rocks". There might be eleven best ways, and thirty-seven fuck-him-up-forever ways and the weight of choosing one of the eleven is heavy. The wretchedness of writing something meaningful and articulate, the struggle of slogging up slopes that seem so much smaller on maps, and the process of parenting a healthy, well-rounded kid who won't go YouTube viral for all the wrong reasons are consistent themes in my life.

This new parenting era -- the one where there's pubic hair where there once was a diaper -- requires a much keener focus on the lifelong relationship I want with my child, and the decisions I need to make in order to keep building and fortifying that relationship path. Be firm on school responsibilities. Be soft on extra sandwiches right before dinner. Be firm on gratitude. Be soft on grunts instead of "good mornings". Co-parent with trust, and make decisions as a team. Remove damaging distractions, but keep the memory bank brimming with fresh deposits. Hug often. Allow lap snuggles even when my sciatic nerve is pinched under the teenage weight of three back-to-back breakfasts and, honestly ... it's hard to breathe at times.

I'm fumbling my way through it all -- without a map -- but not without direction. And for whatever else may be remembered or forgotten by my children, at least "Don't eat rocks" was some solid advice. Even if he didn't always take it.

he ate rocks

and survived


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