Urf! It's what my three-year-old daughter utters when trying to tie her shoes or reach a bath towel or when squeezing a dab of toothpaste on her own all becomes too much. It's the sound of frustration. Urf is the pressure that builds up inside kids and escapes with the all the power of a tea kettle, yet with the economy of a dog's bark. As much as it belongs to a child, however, it is also the sound of the parent and the frustration that comes, not just from being awaken at midnight or wanting to read a whole book chapter without interruption, but with watching our children tie their shoes for the first time and squeeze that tube of toothpaste until their knuckles whiten. We want to help (and probably will in the end) but we also want them to succeed, we will them to complete the task on their own, to complete a stage, to become whole.
Upon becoming a first time parent over eight years ago, I had no idea there were parenting styles. My wife read all she could find on it and discussed techniques with like-minded women, finally deciding on attachment-style parenting, or some aberration of it anyway. As far as I knew, if my child was still alive and reasonably happy at the end of the day then I did my job. Eight years and three kids later with one on the way, I'm not sure that's changed much for me. I also don't think I know much more about parenting than I did in January 1998 when my first son showed up. Every day is a challenge, and it's not the challenge of running scripted and practiced football plays or taking an exam you've studied for for weeks. Every day is different. Every day is a new joy and a new frustration.
I hope to remember in this space those new joys and new frustrations that my kids bring me from day to day. The stories should mostly be funny - funny to me anyway - as these kids never fail to surprise me with what they say or do. I'm not sure fathers are supposed to keep these blogs, at least I've never seen one by a dad, while there are plenty from mothers out there. I guess I'll just start and see how it goes. See if it's fun, or if it's just frustrating. Urf!