Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My House-Where a kid can be a kid.

Welcome to my house. In my bathroom, there is lipstick on the mirror. There are toys in the bathtub and a potty seat on the toilet for my *gasp* almost 3 year old who is just beginning to potty train, regardless of all of the people who feel the need to mention how he has been old enough for a year now. Make-up sits demolished on the counter because it doubles as facepaint when Eldon decides he wants to be a cat. I am steadily tripping over the stool that was strategically purchased so Eldon could "see mine mouth" while he brushed his teeth. This all takes place without a single rule being broken. Yes, we allow it. Fair warning to all guests: I will clean the bathroom before you arrive but there is a child who lives in this house...and we allow him to be a child.

This warning is also issued to all people who may come into contact with us in public. I don't "shhh" my son when he sings loudly in the shopping cart. I ignore the eyeroll of the waitress when when she has to spend an extra 5 seconds at our table so Eldon can order for himself. I let Eldon open the door by himself even when there is an impatient shopper waiting behind us to get in/out of the store. He is 2, I guess I just sorta expect people to understand.

In the era of "Your Baby Can Read," it seems that parents are forgetting what a treasure childhood truly is. The whole idea of pushing your child out of diapers and into adulthood at the earliest possible age is not an idea that I share. The other day at the library, we sat next to a woman who told me that they were also in the potty training process. Her daughter is 1. ONE. Since when do we require our infants to conduct themselves as adults?

I find myself a bit conflicted. Should we make sure that our children are learning to their full potential? How do I separate that from pushing them out of their current stage before they are ready? I was consumed with pride the day Eldon started walking. The day he learned his ABC's. I would have been just as excited and proud to see those first steps, though, if they had taken place a few months later and that's where I think parents lose themselves. It's a race to beat the "average" and an overall effort to make our kids grow up faster when it already goes by so quick. Whatever happened to the appeal of Neverneverland?

As we sprint neck in neck for the smartest, strongest child, we are forgetting that they're children. Children were made to explore and express themselves in ways that we could and should be learning from. Instead I witness parents squashing imagination rather than nurturing it. How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! They hush their kids and expect them to behave in a manner that is usually reserved for the stiff I-own-all-white-furniture-and-wear-big-hats-type-people.
We teach them to ask nicely, yet we yank forbidden toys right from their tiny little fingers. (This SO bugs me.) We teach them not to hit, yet we spank them when they break rules. I understand that children need to be respectful of adults. I also understand, though, that respect is earned and often confused with obedience. Just because a child responds with robot-like obedience to everything a parent says, does not mean that the child respects their parent. Respecting children is just as important. The whole "Children should be seen and not heard" mentality can suck it. Children should be heard, and if you listen, you might actually learn something. I admire Eldon's ability to challenge Nate and I when he thinks we are being unfair. I know that if we can teach him to do so respectfully, it will be one of his strong suits in the future.

I cuddle Eldon every time he drinks one of his two daily sippy cups of milk. I lay in bed with him rubbing his back until he is asleep. I kiss his owies. I bought him a doll. I am not making him a "Mama's Boy." I am not MAKING him anything. He will do that on his own. I am simply responding to the needs he has at this stage in his life, as I will continue to do for many more stages. So far, it seems to be working. I am so proud of the adorable, sweet, and smart little guy I get to call mine. He opens doors, says please and thank you, and asks people if they are O.K. when they appear hurt. Not because it's a rule but because he sees Nate and I do it and just assumes it's what you do.

This is rather long, but the idea was brought up at last week's "Wild Women Wednesday" and I have been thinking about it alot lately. Where to find the balance. I have come to the conclusion that we are just going to continue on our same path and parenting style, although I am now much more aware of whether I am simply encouraging, or pushing too hard in certain situations. I am so grateful for the wonderful women I know and am getting to know who ignited this discussion. Lots of thoughts, probably some rambling. Sorry. Go spoil your babies!

1 comment:

  1. Even though I don't have children I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. Children all develop at a different rate and as long as they have supportive, loving parents they will get there when their time is right. Imagination is such a wonderful thing and I think kids are using it less and less. I love that you let Eldon order food. As a server I give my undivided attention to whom ever is ordering whether it is a 3 year old to a 98 year old. I hate when people look at who ever should be the "head" of the table and don't treat each person at the table as their own person. This bothers me most when servers do this to elderly people, give them some freaking respect! Sorry rambling... I just love how much of your own person you let Eldon be and think every mother should read this post. PS do you read Autumn's Blog?? You two are both two very strong great young mothers and I love reading your guys' blogs and it makes me think I MIGHT want to have kids :)