Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Zen Parenting

Every now and then I think about the Zen Parent: Buddha taught that serenity comes from renouncing desire, so the Zen Parent approaches the job with no expectations, just the willingness to experience everything that comes with calm acceptance.

Yeah, right.

Here's a story about the closest I ever got to Zen Parenting: I was at the bank drive-up window and BabyGirl was in her carseat playing with some stickers. I her a noise and look back to see her, mouth open, eyes watering and looking panicky. So I lean back, reach into her mouth and pull out a sticker that was (possibly) blocking her airway.

The weird part of this story is what was going on in my head: part of my brain started shouting, SHE'S CHOKING!! CHOKING!! But it was as if some automatic emergency doors closed and, while I could hear that inner voice, it was muffled while I calmly pulled out the obstruction, made sure she was ok, and completed my transaction at the bank. No freaking out, no panic.

And here's the kicker: I hope with all my heart that those emergency doors work next time. That was NOT a Zen Parent acting, that was me doing what parents always do, taking care of the child. How can anyone have a child and not have desires? Not just that the child is happy and healthy, but that maybe this time the thunder won't scare her* or that the horrible noise I just heard wasn't her head hitting the pavement. And I want to be able to handle emergencies without scaring the child or, worse, losing my shit completely.

What do I call a Zen Parent? Daddy, that's what.

And make no mistake: my husband, BabyGirl's own daddy, is not one of those Daddys who just seem to float, disengaged, through their children's lives. (Or even check out altogether and go start another family someplace else, sending the occasional late child support check.) I've watched them in action and I marvel at it, but not in a good way. I've also seen Husband's adrenaline reaction when BabyGirl runs toward the street, that is NOT Zen. He would take a bullet, gladly, for that child and so would I. (As a matter of fact, I know that my mother would take a bullet for me, too, even at this late date.)

And because our girl is adopted, there's no fucking Evolutionary Biology explanation here, all protecting-my-genes selfishness, nothing about how it's the hormones from pregnancy-birth-lactation that is supposed to be the source of the drive to keep this child safe and happy. No, indeed: it's love.

If Zen Parenting means I have to love this child any less, than I'll pass. If I can manage to not freak out at every little thing, I'll be doing great, but I just don't understand how anyone can be a parent and renounce desire.

*For the record, that was just a hypothetical; BabyGirl loves thunder. During a huge storm she kept asking for more thunder, really, "Daddy, more thunder please!"


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