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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on February 19th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 50 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 50

I'm a parent--here's my card

How I'm slapping a 'handle with care' sticker on my kids and sending them out into the world

BY SHELLEY CONE

Having a young child sometimes feels like being an overworked superhero. They need help with even the most mundane of tasks: “Mommy, can you get that toy on that shelf?” Followed by the rewarding, “yay!” and handclap combo that conditions you to accept the next challenge: “Mommy, this sock won’t go on my foot. Can you put it on my foot?” That’s followed by a giggle and a quick happy-feet dance.


Shelley Cone
Those are just the warm-up feats of parental protective powers. As Ron and I walk our 4-year-old Sebastian across the parking lot, we corral him from drifting into the middle of the lane where cars are driving through, pull him quickly away from the car with the taillights that just lit up, and steer him away from the cart he nearly walked into because he was looking down at a bug. Sebastian strolls around oblivious to the fact that at any moment we are fighting off the everyday perils he could possibly fall victim to: cars that don’t see him, stray dogs, giant puddles, sinister shopping carts that drift into his path.

We provide the protective bubble barrier around him so that he can go on living in wonderment at the world a little longer. It’s tough to be on constant superhero alert, but at least with a young child your powers are still effective. When they get older, kids slip out of that protective barrier of parental good intention and hopefully don’t walk smack into a tree.

As parents, Ron and I try the best we can to know everything about our older kids. You wonder about their friends: They seem OK, but is it just an act? Does he sport a 5 o’clock shadow when he’s at his home? Do I see a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his sleeve?

You wonder about the kid’s parents: Are they going to look like the Addams Family or put off a Manson family vibe? What kinds of foods are they going to let them eat? What videos will they let them play? What movies will they allow them to watch?

Then one parent we met introduced herself and asked me if there were any allergies my son had or anything she should know before he spent the night. Then she gave me her “parent card.” Fantastic, genius, inspiration. I loved it. The card had her children’s names and the name and contact numbers for her and her husband.

That night as we thought about our own parent card, I started to expand on the idea. I mean, wouldn’t it be great to add important details about the kids? I tossed ideas out there: “Our kids eat a plant-based diet,” I said, knowing the reaction my kids would give me. It worked, “Don’t you dare Mom, unless you want me to lose all my friends.”

“Maybe I should warn parents that one of my boys gets sick to his stomach every single time he eats too many sweets, or that if you don’t watch them, my boys will try to sneak out of brushing their teeth,” I suggested. My two older boys rolled their eyes at me and walked out of the room.

Of course, I was joking. Mostly. It just seems like a great way to extend that bubble of protection when I can’t be there. As I contemplated what to put on our parent cards I thought about what my own card would say if Ron were to give one to people I interact with: “Shelly has a tendency to encourage others to join in her crazy ideas that can’t possibly have a positive outcome.” “Will drink too much wine if you let her.” “Keep her away from bathroom scales unless you want to see her cry half the night.” “If separated from the group, you can find her at the beer garden having too many beers.”

Imagine if every time you went somewhere new someone gave everyone a card about you. What would your card say? How much would you be able to experience—and learn—about life on your own if everyone around you knew how to protect you? Would you ever learn to protect yourself?

Obviously, there comes a time when you have to back off from protecting the ones you love and transition into letting them learn how to protect themselves. The trouble is knowing when that time has come. If I have to throw all my superpower protection tips onto a parent card for my child just to spend the night at someone’s house then that time is now.

I still made up parent cards but I went with a clean, simple concept. They read:

“Ron and Shelly Cone, the Creators of Jake, Chase, and Sebastian. Here’s our contact info. Handle with care and we promise to do the same for yours. Please don’t hesitate to call us any time.” m

While the cards make it easy to exchange contact info with other parents, they still embarrass the heck out of the kids—and that’s always fun to do.