Parents, hug your children

I have heard some tragic stories recently of parents losing their children. One friend of a friend’s beautiful, talented, popular 14-year old daughter took her own life, bereft  over a breakup with her boyfriend. Another friend’s friend lost their college-age son in a car accident abroad. A 15-year old boy in my city was hit by a drunk driver in broad daylight while riding his bike. In a moment everything can change.

My 12-year old daughter has had a rocky 6th grade year. Her grades have been up and down, her effort has been minimal at times (more like the majority), and  I have been called by her advisor and teachers more than a few times this year. She has dropped some activities, and resists trying something new as she “isn’t good at it.” The logic of “you can’t be good at something unless you try it and practice” is lost on my tween. Her school year ends this week and it was capped off by a call from her English teacher as she inadvertently copied a portion of a research paper (aka plagiarizing). The tip-off that is was pure laziness and not intentional plagiarizing? Her paper was on the March on Washington of 1963 and the two copied paragraphs were suddenly about the March on Washington of 1941. Almost comical. Knowing my daughter, she was copying her notes in a rush to go watch Glee and didn’t think twice in the midst of much copying and pasting from the Internet. The old days of World Book Encyclopedia research made inadvertent plagiarizing a whole lot harder.

Needless to say, my husband and I have had many sit downs with our daughter over the last week over this event at school. She is grounded, no TV, no electronics, all she has done is study. And I worry about her. Just like every parent, I really just want her to be happy and sure of herself. I sometimes laugh when I think about when I was in the moment of parenting three kids under the age of four and how hard I thought it was. Hah. In retrospect those were the days. I think the real parenting starts now. As my husband said to me the other day at the end of a week where our son skipped a sports practice because he was having a melt down, we got a call from the principal of our kids school about our younger daughter who was having a very dramatic conflict with a friend, and the news of our older daughter’s research paper escapade, “Being a parent is hard.”

So while I am worried about my daughter/infuriated by her, I just have to love her, support her, be her biggest cheerleader, show her the way. And hope that’s enough. My heart breaks for these parents who have lost their children too soon, and serve as a reminder to all of us to give our children an extra hug, even when it’s hard.

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