Extreme Parenting

I went to see that odd bird of Shakespeare’s plays, Timon of Athens, last week. I’m happy to report that it was a fantastic production (Actor’s Shakespeare Project) followed by a perfect corned beef/cabbage/potatoes dish at The Franklin Café. An evening bad for the body but good for the mind.

Today, I’m thinking about this one line from the play about parenting:

“The middle of humanity thou never knewest, but the extremity of both ends” (4.3.335-6)

First, full disclosure: the guy who says this to Timon is not actually talking about parenting. He’s commenting on how Timon goes from lavishing praise and money on his deadbeat “friends” to the other extreme: living as a naked, crazy misanthrope in the woods.

Fine. But this line spoke to me so much in the context of my own little life that I couldn’t help but to whisper “yes!” after it was delivered, as if I were at a parenting lecture not a Shakespeare play. It often feels like I’m either overwhelmed by my kids or falling all over them, arranging playdates and making sure they’re signed up for the right soccer team.

The idea of living by extremes has a particular meaning to me today, twenty-four hours after my in-laws picked up the kids for a sleep-over. I’m elated by this freedom, but also missing them, looking forward to their return, and wondering whether it’s possible to have more days where we just co-exist, without going to the usual extremes of yelling, fretting, self-blaming, helicoptering, and over-analyzing?

How does one get to that sweet, juicy middle of humanity anyway?




Everyday Shakespeare http://www.everydayshakespeare.com. Served fresh Monday-Friday.



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