• Zach

Finding Fatherhood in a Snow-Globe (Part II)

Recently I’ve been hearing a lot from the parental community about time spent with their children (more to come on space vs. time). I must be quite upfront in stating that what Jessica and I are doing within our own personal tribe is what works for us. And while it is true that we all have different needs, we as parents all share a common bond: a mother and a father created a life. And when that child arrived, we cherished them beyond the ethereal…until life got dull, life got complicated or, most commonly, the system nudged us back to our “careers”.

It all starts with us as parents and don’t get me wrong, we are all about self-care and taking personal time off to unwind. But does it break our heart to check our daughter into her school (more like a facility) every day, like some patient, while we trudge off to work? Or are we eager to get on with our day, telling ourselves “she needs the social”, when really we’re just cruelly and unconsciously conditioned to be in need of this separation from her? Sure, our children can learn through positive social experiences, but how often, at what age and at what cost?

There are a number of child psychologists, homeschoolers, and over-concerned parents that have honed in on this “time” approach with their children: Carefully crafting 10 Minutes per day of personal time with just you and your little one; making sure you and your partner each receive at least 8 Hours per day away from your little one.

Sure we all need a break, but paying some elderly woman to “watch” them every Saturday while we go shopping or fishing after working all week? We seem to be filling our schedules so that we can fill our kid’s schedules; or vice versa. Either way, why did we procreate if we had no intention on ever being fully present in their lives in the first place?

In operating a school, we had a handful of children every morning that would throw fits and tantrums and scream for their mom or dad not to leave…this is considered “normal” behavior. And what’s worse is that we were telling the parents of these teary eyed toddlers to just leave and that it’s much easier if the drop-off process is swift; this can be confirmed by checking with your state’s Department of Education and it’s philosophy on attachment.

Most, running late to their job or spin class, had no problem with this process; however, the separation anxiety created by this daily routine never seemed to improve with certain students. Presumably, this cycle will continue and as their classroom gets bigger, so too may the child’s emotional and behavioral deficits. Your state’s Department of Education will also tell you that these issues will magically disappear once the child turns 3 years of age: Voila! Spoiler alert: said issues often persist and may worsen with time.

Many parents do wish to be with their children for more than just a breakfast and a dinner each day. It is both appalling and troubling, however, the number of folks who simply do what is instructed by the expert in their respective field. As we each become increasingly specialized in these vocational fields, we are not only developing a “stay in your lane” line of thinking, we seem to be drifting further away from our natural intuition, as parents and as humans. End result: we roll our eyes at our child’s embarrassing pleas for attachment, peel them off of us and swoop ourselves out the door, see you at 5PM! Ahhh, peace outside of the carpool lane:

“Their teacher said this was okay and I’d rather have an adult telling me what to do every single day than a child.” Well I contest that I would rather witness a little child throwing a tantrum every single day than your adult.

The very absence of parental leave programs in this country lays out very clearly what our system expects of us. Active parenting has been devalued and replaced with the worker bee mentality. A perennial lack of funding for education, slashing of arts programs and an overwhelmingly apathetic attitude toward their future further indicates that our children, observing this social mechanism unfold, will endure the same fate and are destined to repeat the same traditional patterns that have been set before them. This is not the 1950’s any longer and some of us who thought the spouse, the house, the cars and the white picket fence were the things to chase, have been learning the hard way that they are not; while the opportunity for growth keeps diminishing with every tearful drop-off.

Following the birth of our first child, I was caught in a blistering storm of confusion. Standard patriarchal traditions pervaded my consciousness, while all I really wanted to do was spend time with my kid. This, to me, was no way to live. I was no longer a sheep and could no longer buy into the bullshit I was being fed for the first two years of Oliver’s life and throughout my entire life. We eventually seized Option C (damn the system) and decided to forge on as a unit, a tribe (also more to come on how this occurred and why).

Think about what our government has become, it’s objectives and what it’s institutions stand for, this includes schools. If we consider each of our children to be exceptional individuals, then we must consider and re-consider exceptional options for them. Make time and make space in your life to know your child and know yourself. Learn to identify what is actually healthy for them so that you can experience life through their eyes in a meaningful and productive way.

Within my family, I have grown to realize that what truly matters is not just family. Living freely demands honesty and the individualistic vitality of our existence is what motivates us to continue our efforts to better this world and ourselves. We are giving everything we have to this movement, this idea of freedom. It is our idea, it is our dream, but it is not in exile. We truly wish the same for everyone and further believe that it is our collective duty to pursue happiness and all that comes with it. As with racial equality, environmental sustainability and…. as with anything, once the garden is weeded, only then may we grow it.

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