I think it would be safe to say that my work situation is a unique one. I love my job. That might be partly why it is unique. How many people can say that can actually mean it? I love what I do. Even after early 10 years, I still feel a sense of purpose in what I do and feel challenged and stimulated regularly. I still learn new things each day. Another reason it is unique is there isn’t a high turnover. Everyone in our office has been there for years and we are quite close. We are like a family. As a matter of fact we refer to our group as “work family.” We’ve seen each other through weddings, cancer, losing loved ones, and miscarriage. The doc I work with every day delivered my baby. Our group is more than just a medical office. We are family. There’s another reason my work situation is unique though. One of my co-workers is a childhood friend. Not something that is very common at all.
Recently, she filled the role of the backup in our office. Having a backup has been very beneficial in our office setting. The clinical staff plays an important role in helping the doctor stay on schedule. Sometimes, we are in a position where we are expected to be in two or three places at the same time. Having a second clinical or “backup” working with the doctor helps make the process run even more smoothly. When there’s two medical assistants as opposed to just one, it is easier to keep the doctor on schedule and minimize patient wait times. Since she has become the backup, we spend a lot more time working together.
When you work closely with someone whether it be a childhood friend or not, you talk. You are eventually up on what’s going on in each other’s lives. This is no different, but there is one exception. Due to our history, stuff comes up that reminds us of some sort of memory from back in the day. Sometimes it is a memory that one of us has long since forgotten. There have been many times throughout the years where we would get together and play “remember when.” These days however, that sometimes takes on a new meaning. Why? We are now both parents.
While working together, we discuss our parenting woes. Her younger two are in middle school. Since mine is only four, I’m really not much help. My parenting experience is limited, so when we discuss the pitfalls of parenting middle schoolers, I have no experience to help her with. All I have to go on is my own personal experience of being a middle schooler once. That’s where the memories come in.
I remind us that we were not much different back in our day than her kids are now. Sure the technology is different, but the mentality is the same. We talk about how if we had such technology back in our day, we would likely use it in the same ways. I mean, we were pretty creative with the technology we had. Three way calling, *67, putting the karaoke machine speaker in the second story window while stepping out on to the roof to perform for our street. I recorded it all too. Even just while hanging out and goofing off, I recorded antics with the karaoke machine. I even made a “greatest hits” cassette tape one year. Yes, if we had the ability to video ourselves, we would have had our own YouTube channel. If there were TikTok, we would have used it. We probably would even make fun of one another through it. Move over three way calling while putting a friend on mute, here comes TikTok and Snapchat.
While having these conversations and reminiscing, one common theme comes up. I think all of us as parents can relate. We want so badly for our kids to know the things we didn’t know growing up. We wish to pass on our knowledge that we acquired through growth into adulthood. What parent doesn’t want to arm their children with everything they had to learn the hard way growing up, prior to entering school or while they are in school? We all want these things. How nice would it be if they actually listened to us? What if there were some magic pill we could give them that would just pass all this knowledge on to them? If they could gain the same knowledge and wisdom without facing the challenges we faced? If only life worked that way.
I for one, know that if back then I were anything like I am today, I would be 100 times more badass. The one thing I am already desperately trying to get into my son’s head even now is not to worry about the opinions of others. I don’t want him finding himself in situations where he is doing things simply to impress his friends or the “cool crowd.” I want him to be happy with being himself. I’m sure all parents want this for their kids and I know he won’t fully get it or listen to me, but I’m hoping at least some of it sticks while he is young.
I want him to understand how freeing it is when you don’t care about what others think or about social hierarchy. I am thankful that I realized this while I was still in high school. Once I was about 15, I didn’t give a rat’s a** about social hierarchy or what people thought. I was friends with whoever I wanted to be friends with and didn’t care who had a problem with it. As a matter of fact, I made it pretty clear to people if a situation arose where someone had a “problem” with one of my friends. I didn’t care what “group” you associated with. If you were a “band geek” and I liked you, we were friends. If you were “popular,” I would at least give you a chance and be nice to you as opposed to immediately writing you off as “snobby” and being mean to you. I even kept a lot of your secrets while you ladies talked amongst yourselves as I sat nearby doodling in my sketchbook. Yes, I heard your conversations, but your juicy gossip was safe with me. Although I have to admit, some of you gals had some pretty hilarious one liners that I had to share with my friends. We had some laughs at your expense. I apologize. It was all pretty benign though.
I want my son to have a clear understanding of these things. I want him to understand how freeing it is to just be who you are. Don’t get me wrong, for me, I was still pretty tightly wound back then, but this was where the journey began and I’m thankful it started when it did. Because I didn’t give a crap, I talked to everybody. As long as you weren’t an a-hole, I was nice to you. If you were a jerk, well, you probably experienced my wrath at some point. Maybe it was justified. Maybe it wasn’t. In either case, I’m sorry. I had anger issues back then.
I feel that the freedom that came with not caring about what others think is a good part of the reason why high school was a blast for me. My husband also had a blast in high school, but for entirely different reasons. We went to the same school, even had some of the same friends, but our paths did not cross. We had different interests. However, he had a blast too. My point is, that it doesn’t really matter what group you fall into in school. ALL groups have drama. From the jocks and cheerleaders to the chess club. Every single group has drama. Every single group also has great times and memories. Our kids need to know this as well.
Another thing that I feel we as parents wish our kids would understand is that their time in school is temporary. Of course all life situations are temporary, but if only they could understand just how small of a blip on the radar our school years are compared to the rest of our lives, it would alleviate a lot of the pressures our kids face. I know this from personal experience. I didn’t give a crap about homecoming court or being voted most whatever to whatever. I enjoyed all these things. I had fun being involved and the experiences made for great memories. Snowcoming, prom committee, decorating for the homecoming dance, the tennis team, Friday night football games, and driving around the streets at night with my girls.
The experiences were great and the memories made were fantastic. That being said, even then I was aware that there was more to life than high school. As a result, I wasn’t that competitive. I wasn’t desperate to get my picture on every single page of the yearbook or get some fancy title. When my friends questioned why these things weren’t that big of a deal to me, I would say “This stuff only matters here. Out there in the world, nobody cares.” Of course the colleges you aspire to get into care about your activities, but once you are in, nobody cares. Your Anatomy and Physiology professor doesn’t care if you were Prom Queen. Your boss doesn’t care if you were voted “best yodeler.” Your spouse doesn’t care if you were a “band geek.” They probably admire your musical talent.
If we can get our kids to understand this, it can make their experience better. They will join activities because they want to, not because they feel pressured to. They will enjoy these activities more. They will have more time to focus on SAT scores and planning for the future. If we can put it into perspective for our children, it could eliminate a lot of pressure and anxiety for them. Our school years are great, but as all things in life, they are temporary and in the grand scheme of things, just another small dot on the road map of life.
Of course it isn’t that easy is it? Our kids don’t always listen to us. We could easily just fill them up with our wisdom if our kids just listened to us and hung on every world we said. I’m laughing as I type this, because even though mine is only four, I know this isn’t the case. Kids don’t listen and as they grow older, they get this crazy idea that we are clueless and they know everything. I want so badly to arm my son with this wisdom prior to entering school, but I know better. Did we listen to our parents when they tried telling us these things? Probably not. We acquired this wisdom on our own. It was only through life experiences, facing these challenges for ourselves, and personal growth that we leared these things. We can talk to our kids until we are blue in the face with our insights and helpful advice, but the truth is, wisdom like this comes from none other than the trial by fire experiences of life that we grow from. We as parents know this deep down and it terrifies us. That’s why we still try talking until we are blue in the face hoping that even a small tidbit sticks. We turned out fine though. Chances are, they will too.