Parenting always has been three parts principles and action, and one part crapshoot.
You provide comfort, offer support and instill guidance, followed by the one trait that all parents very quietly possess — holding your breath.
Parenting can take a lot of oxygen.
That's why it's always nice to run across a simple little story that shows that parenting can even work, too.
Like, the Marcum family.
They are Makana, 13, her brother, Sam, 12, and 10-year-old twins, Cylas and Maddux, the children of Mindi and Justin "Willie" Marcum, a pair of working parents (she a doctor's assistant in medical billing, he's a union laborer) in LeRoy.
It was a little more than a year ago that Willie built a small greenhouse next to their home that sits on two-plus acres and planted preseason pots inside to get a jump-start on the garden the Marcums do each summer.
The kids, in turn, were told their job would be to weed, and water, and tend.
This, of course, was met by the same excitement as, say, school vaccinations or root canal therapy.
But by June, there was an additional note: if there was enough produce produced, the kids might even be able to make a little money, if they'd be willing to do all the selling. "We've always believed that you have to work to earn things," says Mindi.
A seed was planted.
One day not long after, after seeing Steve Dean, the mayor of LeRoy who runs a Niepagen Garden Shop in town and a weekend LeRoy farmers market, the Marcum kids announced to their parents they might make a big sign and set up their own stand at the market.
They began getting up on Saturdays, market day, at 4 a.m.
With a bit of guidance, they divvied work schedules, to box, load and set up at the market.
Once word got around that the Marcum kidlings had launched their own "business," folk in LeRoy began dropping by their place on Sundays, too, to buy what wasn't sold on Saturday.
The kids actually started to count a little money.
One day, at the end of last season, Maddux ("our top workhorse in the garden," says Mindi) said he personally thought they should go "bigger and better" in 2015.
So they went into the greenhouse a little earlier this spring and started the seedlings a little earlier, too.
They came up with a plan to expand the garden.
Mindi started a Facebook page for them. By Monday, it had 150 "likes," then within two weeks, 1,200.
All interested in sports, about a month ago the Marcums experienced disappointment when they learned the sponsor of the 10-year-olds' baseball team wasn't going to re-up and the team might be in jeopardy.
That's when one of the twins said, “Wait a minute, why can’t we sponsor the team?”
“You?” said their parents.
“How much is it?” they asked.
It was, they learned, $150 to "own" a team in the LeRoy 9-10 league.
So they bought their own team.
Tim Brooks is the coach.
After the commissioning of such, already made are the uniform shirts that proudly display the name of their new team — "Four Peanuts For Produce" — that will in turn advertise their weekend vegetable stand business.
“So," says Mindi, "after all the games this year, I guess we’ll come home and be in the garden, the lights on, so they can finance the team and also be ready for the next Saturday market.”
There could be expansion ahead, too.
The other day, two of the boys' friends, Kaden and Kyle, another set of 10-year-old twins in LeRoy, asked the inevitable, "Hey, how can we become part of your business?"
And so it goes.
"This just sort of started and the kids ran with it. As parents, it makes you proud," says Mindi. “They’re interacting with adults, something a lot of kids don’t do much of today. They’re doing marketing. They're learning how to run a business.”