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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

There's parenting everywhere

Posted Monday, September 17, 2012, at 9:59 AM

As my son moves deeper and deeper into that most excellent phase we call the "Terrible Twos" I'm learning more and more that parenting opportunities are everywhere.

I suppose I knew this already, but I'm becoming more keenly aware of it.

For example, as we were driving to Indianapolis on Saturday evening, another motorist cut me off and I called him a "dumb A." That's literally what I said, intentionally abbreviating the curse word.

"Don't say that word, Daddy," comes from the back seat.

"But I didn't say a bad word. I left out the bad word."

"No, Daddy," my wife chimes in patiently, "you said D-U-M-B."

Oh, dear. This is getting tough.

One of the lessons I'm learning is that while good parenting takes effort, you can be a bad parent at any time, with nearly no effort at all. Anytime you let that bad word slip, there it is again.

I'm also learning that parenting comes from a lot more than just my wife and I. While I expect it and see it from grandparents and aunts and uncles, just about anyone who knows a child well can do some parenting.

On Saturday when we were visiting my brother-in-law, Miles had been playing with my brother-in-law's roommate, Chumley. I then struck up a conversation with the Chumley.

As an only child, Miles wasn't happy about the shift in attention, so he got right in Chumley's face to talk to him.

Chumley calmly turned to Miles and said, "No, Miles, that's rude. Your dad and I were talking."

I was stunned, but not in a bad way. Here in front of me was a man who just a few months ago was ill-at-ease around my son, having never spent a lot of time around small children.

And now here he was taking a moment to teach an important lesson to Miles about manners. I hope he knows the help means a lot to Nicole and I as parents.

Sometimes as a friend, it's easy to be the good guy and let the parents do the heavy lifting. But I suppose it's a real friend who tries to help mom and dad with their load.

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Jared Jernagan
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.
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