Raising kids seems to be a form of adapted warfare. But where you genuinely love your enemy. I have only ever been an innocent bystander. Able to give them sugar and hand them back. Pull a funny face. Then retreat. More like a sniper than hand to hand combat. Watching 'Band of Brothers' felt like a more genuine dramatisation of what war is like. Not the constant action of most big explosion action movies. More like long periods of boredom salted with absolute fear and panic. As an outsider, the most challenging part of raising kids looks to me like the long periods of patience required. Long. Where if you hand out sugar, you deal with the consequences. So you keep it to Easter and special occasions. You ration.
What is most impressive about most of the people I have seen making their way through this process is the 'strategic thinking'. Being able to focus on the winning the war and not each battle. As adults, I think we often take interactions with people to be an insight into who they are. We look for patterns. We look for cause. For intent. For the story. With children, the story is still being written and so they hop from utter and complete devastation, to a giggle, to a burst of energy, to a collapse, to being nasty, to being kind, to being funny. They even have the ability to reflect back behaviours as a form of feedback. A friend told me that being with her kids has taught as much as she is teaching them through seeing them interact. Seeing how relationships are built. Unconditional love. Forgiveness. Time. Even the bits they will never remember form a core of the relationship.
The biggest transferable lesson I have learnt from my friends and family who are raising the next generation is to not add too much story to every event. Not to see patterns where they aren't there. To be able to see battles as battles, not wars.
To always keep a store of smiles, jokes, hugs, tickles, spins and kisses. To be generous with our forgetfulness.
Character and personality also exists outside patterns.
We are defined by every event.