Parentology [pair-uhn-tol-uh-jee] noun:
A philosophy of highly engaged child rearing in which one (A) accesses all relevant research; (B) makes a practice of constantly weighing said research against one’s own experience and common sense; and (C) invents unique methodologies on the fly and fearlessly caries them out in order to test creative hypotheses about best practices for one’s own particular offspring.
Like Mormonism and Jazz, Paleontology is a uniquely American, improvisational approach to the raising of children. It relies on both modern science and old school intuition.
Parentologist: One who practices parentology
Synonyms: Jazz parenting; post-Spock parenting; scientific American parenting
Antonyms: Old-world parenting; traditional parenting; textbook parenting; tiger mothering; bringing up bébé
Origin: 2-14, portmanteau of “parenting” + “ology” (as in study of)
Growing up, my favorite place was the library. Most likely because my favorite things were books. I would barter with my mom and dad: “If I count to 700 can I get 7 books?”
“What if I count to 800? Can I get 8?”
“I think I’ll count to 1000.”
While the price was dull, the goods were, well, good! My library fervor followed me through college but, like so much else, it faded once I arrive on the real-world scene. Now, as so much else in my blessed, charmed life, I’ve returned to what seems a long-lost love.
It began with fantasy and fairy-tales, and little has changed in these twenty-odd years I’ve been literate: these still capture my heart (and my nighttime hours.) But the library doesn’t have book eight of the ever-gripping Eye of the World series and instead I drown myself in poetry and memoirs and parenting books.
The latter are, for the most part, dull. Even the montessori books (which are as good as required reading) lack everything but information; even that is recycled from tome to tome. But of the forty or so parenting books I’ve read since bean was conceived, I’ve found two from the library that made me stifle my giggles into the pillow for fear of waking sweet bean and broadened my view of the adventures to come, and how to handle them.
Parentology, by Dalton Conley, and The Year of Learning Dangerously, by Quinn Cummings sung of adventures had by parents even whackier than me. For one, I finally know how vaccines work. I also learned about ought-selfs and ideal-selfs and the crazy dance of sociology and economics and medicine. I confirmed that another book I had checked out from the library, The Well-Trained Mind, is a tome worth studying and perhaps purchasing. I learned of the T1 and T2 responses, their differences, and how they come to play in vaccinations. I learned that if I want to be off the grid I should be looking to Texas. Also, gummy bears for math is probably not the best thing and if bean happens to be diagnosed with ADD I’d rather think it’s schooling that’s not for him rather than him that’s not for school, and I’ll change the school rather than changing him. Those meds are not a laughing matter.
And, like those books, I do not live up to the promise of my earlier words. Perhaps by studying the well-trained mind, I’ll make a turnaround and once again write poetically. For now, though, I’ll cease and desist, forgetting for a while how dreadful it’s become to read my error-riddled elementary words and instead delight in the peace of a baby breathing softly on my shoulder. We have a lot to learn, he and I: I more than him.