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The benefits abound

Jeanne Sager - Columnist
Posted 9/15/20

Going into parenthood, the benefits seem pretty clear.

You get a small person to love and dote on, you get to raise a respectable member of society, you get to continue your legacy, and so on. …

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The benefits abound

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Going into parenthood, the benefits seem pretty clear.

You get a small person to love and dote on, you get to raise a respectable member of society, you get to continue your legacy, and so on.

And then the baby arrives.

And the benefits keep coming.

During the baby years, people will actually demand that you, the adult, take naps. You will need to spend this time showering, washing laundry, and functioning like a real adult, but still, it's the thought that counts.

The toddler years are primed for denying any and all invitations that you don't want to actually attend because… potty training. You may actually spend this time sitting on your couch eating pretzels while the small person in your home watches Elmo, but still, you will be home free.

And the elementary years can be spent playing with LEGO and pretending it isn't for you. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.

Here's what they don't tell you about the teen years: You will hit this period when you realize you've gotten to watch other people's kids turn into the sorts of people who will one day run this world.

This hit me twice over on Saturday.

First was at the gas station of all places, when a not-so-little boy who once shared his grandmother with my then-infant daughter at daycare pulled up to the pump next to mine.

As older folks (that would be me) always do, I informed him that the very fact that he was behind the wheel made me feel old, and he did what a well-raised teenager does: laughed, and proceeded to talk my ear off about his senior year, the current state of the world and his plans for college.

Then came my evening senior shoot. Back in my day (that's something aging parents like me say, by the way), seniors in high school did not get special photo sessions with professional photographers. But as a photographer who takes these types of photos and a parent whose child seems to be running pell-mell towards senior year, I can attest to their worth: This is one of the last times parents can wrangle their kids for a photo that captures them perfectly in time.

As a photographer who's also a parent in the Sullivan West district, this is my time too, to see a new version of kids who I've gotten to see grow up. It's my time to talk to them about their moments in the past that I remember and the future I can't wait for them to fulfill.

This is what that they don't tell you about being a parent that you can't quite imagine: That one day you'll feel invested in kids who aren't your own but who are part of your community and part of our collective future. And the bigger their dreams, the bigger the benefits for all of us.

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