[PHOTO: Vickie Crider of Fulton was recently named as Itawamba County’s Parent of the Year. Her exuberant personality and talkative nature have earned her many friends, as well as proved an occasional source of embarrassment for her seven kids. - photo by Adam Armour]
By ADAM ARMOUR
Vickie Crider answered the question by laughingly stating that, in her experience, a steady prayer life is required to make a good parent.
She also admitted that nine out of 10 times, she doesn’t have the right answers, which puts her original assertion on shaky ground. Still, the exuberant and jovial Fulton resident must be doing something right because she was recently named as Itawamba County Schools’ Parent of the Year, an honor that she repeatedly claimed belonged to someone else.
“I felt very humbled that I was picked,” she finally consented, after minutes of claiming the award belonged in the hands of someone else. “I don’t see that I do anything extra from what anybody else does. But it was very sweet and kind of them.”
She added that receiving the award was a big surprise, and she didn’t even know that Itawamba Attendance Center Principal Sungja Collins and assistant principal Melanie Plunkett had nominated her.
“They pulled one on me,” she said in a whisper, narrowing her eyes. “I pride myself in not having the wool pulled over my eyes, but they got me on this one.”
Crider is the parent of seven children, ranging from eight to 30 years of age, three of whom still live at home. Her household, she admitted, can get a little hectic, but she tries to lead a structured existence.
“It’s crazy at our house sometimes,” she said. “We yell and jump and scream and holler, but it’s fun.”
Although she likes to joke, Crider stressed that she takes her children seriously, trying to stay actively involved in their lives. She serves as secretary for Itawamba Attendance Center’s P.T.O., helps coach her daughter’s softball and basketball teams and participates in AWANAS at her church.
She also sat in on her sixth grade son’s science class for an entire week when his grades were dropping, much to his mortification. His grades promptly improved.
Crider laughed and agreed that nothing is more horrible to an adolescent boy like seeing his mother at school. But it’s moments like these — dealing with all the stresses and joys of growing children — that make parenthood so enjoyable to her.
“I just love kids; I just love them; I love being around them; I love being there for them,” she said excitedly. “I’m a ‘doer’ — I like to ‘do’ for people, so I like to ‘do’ for my children.”
Crider added with a sly and confident grin, “They love me. Sometimes they act like they don’t, but they do.”
After talking at length about life with her children and the peculiarities of living with teen-agers, Crider smiled and admitted that she can’t even remember what life was like before she had children.
“The good Lord just made me to be a parent,” she said matter-of-factly. “Some people are, and some people aren’t. I’m not saying I’m good at it. I just try to be the best I can.”
The secret to good parenthood, she said, is a strong religious foundation coupled with a good ear.
“What works for me is my prayer life,” she said again. “Knowing my child, and really knowing if something’s off. Really knowing, and really listening to them. That’s what works for me.”
Common sense, she added with a smile, doesn’t hurt, either.