Kids don't understand this, but us parents have very little clue how to do our jobs. I mean, most of us get the basics fine (food, clothes, shelter, love, cookies - in no particular order), but beyond that, how do you parent in the best way possible for all concerned?

Case in point: At what magical moment do you decide your kids are suddenly big enough to be allowed to swim by themselves?

All three of mine know how to swim. The Youngest (just turned 6) is still hesitant, even though she can manage just fine. But the other two (7 and 9) are like fish. So when they (the older two; Youngest isn't allowed near the water without an adult present) asked earlier today, as I was running the extremely loud wood chipper, if they could go swimming, I said: OK, but you stay together and don't do anything stupid because I can't hear you over this ruckus."

They agreed. Now I knew I was only going to run the chipper for a few more minutes, since I was mostly done with that morning's batch of brush, but I didn't tell them that. I wanted them to feel like it really mattered that they not let anything bad happen.

I let them be for a few minutes then turned off the chipper and of course they were totally fine. Now I'm back at the computer and I can hear them splashing and giggling and it's a beautiful sound.

Scary as all get out. But beautiful. Sort of like parenting, come to think of it.