Friday, March 27, 2015

What Would Your Mom Do?

I'm sure I'm not the only one that found THIS article circulating on Facebook.

I think it's actually very interesting food for thought, and agree with much of what is said. I'm somewhere in between the hovering, overly involved parent and an earlier generation mom (like the ones referenced in the article). I'm not so comfortable with the thought of locking kiddos outside and letting them run wild until dinner time, and I know I interfere and hover far more than I should. But I do hate to sit through playdates where moms feel the need to constantly jump in, "Timmy, Tommy was using that. Give it back..."

There are some common mom things that I just have tried to not get into the habit of...they may work for some, but for me, I worry about enough and my plate is full enough, and therefore, I axe things off the list I can't handle.

No candy until 20. Some moms I know refuse to give their kiddos anything sweet for what seems like years. I get it, it's not healthy or nutritious. But the fact of the matter is, Ronnie and I eat candy...and a lot of it. We have candy in the house. We will always have candy in the house. Mckenna is a good eater. There are very, very few foods she just straight up won't eat...and usually they are ones that take a lot of chewing/never totally break down (steak) and so she's a little worried she may choke (I supposed a valid reason for not swallowing). But she eats veggies, fruit, and lots of protein daily. And because that's how I eat, it's how she gets to eat. As long as she has had nutritious meals - has eaten lots of fruits and veggies; eaten what's in front of her; doesn't seem to be narrowing what she will try/consume - then I say, "sure, honey, you can have a piece of candy." Does she get the bag? No, but I often let "her pick" what is reasonable. If her initial suggestion isn't in fact reasonable, we talk about why not, and lessen it. I want her to learn moderation in her diet, not restriction.

Not letting her get hurt. No one call CPS please. We don't let her play with fire or knives. But we do let her get hurt, semi-intentionally. There are things she will want to do that we know full well will give her an owwie, but we let them happen anyways. Ronnie the other day let her "do the monkey bars herself". She wanted to. He knew she wouldn't be able to and fall. But wasn't going to battle her to say no. He knew she would figure out it was too hard, but why not let her give it a shot to see for herself? So there she hung, and dropped. Did it hurt? Maybe a little. But she felt proud that she held on for so long (never mind that's not the point of monkey bars at all). We let her jump off things that are maybe arguably a smidgen too high. I often warn her once first, and then let her decide. The other day she was tipping in a chair. I simply told her that she could tip if she wanted to, but to just know that if she fell backwards, there's a good chance she would get pretty hurt. What did she do? She stopped tipping. If she had chosen to tip, and had fallen? Well, I figured a cracked open head would likely be the worst possibility. I'd never heard of anyone dying from tipping in a chair, so I weighed the risks and decided to let her make her own decision. I want her to learn to take calculated risks and be ok with having to dust herself off if she fails.

Carrying everything with us wherever we go. This one I have some guilt over. I see moms with diaper bags fully loaded with everything the kiddo could need. It's nice to be able to pull out a bandaid at the drop of a hat. Hungry? Here are 5 snack options to choose from. Is there a bug? Here's bug spray. During playdates, do I feel bad that my kid mooches off other kids snack? Yes, a little. But 9 out of 10 times I appreciate not carrying an overstuffed bag with me. Before baby N came along, I carried nothing with me, anywhere, for 1.5 years. Before leaving the house, if it's a long excursion, I ask Mckenna if she wants a snack, if she does, great, she can bring it. I ask if she wants water, if she says "yes," perfect, she can get a cup, fill it, and bring it. If she says, "no," then when she says she's hungry or thirsty, I tell her she will have to wait til we are home, she chose not to bring anything. If I think she will really want a drink or snack while out, I just give her a heads up that I think she will want one and tell her why, and then let her decide. Hand sanitizer? This seems like a goodie. It's a great thought. I feel bad when I see moms sanitizing their kids hands and my kiddo is eating off hands that were washed questionably well the last time she went potty. But I don't sanitize my hands before eating or after the store, so I don't do hers. It's pretty freeing not to carry the house around in a bag! Our diaper bag has diapers, wipes, and trash in it...oh and a candy cane from Christmas. I want her to learn how to think ahead in life and bring what's necessary. I also want her to learn that sometimes you have to simply just wait.

"Ew, that's dirty." I'm not worried about germs and dirt most of the time. My one exception is hospital floors...those gross me out..a lot. Otherwise, I'm not too concerned. If Mckenna wants to drink out of the hose, ok. If she wants to pick up some trash at the park to put it in the trash can, well done, my little tree-hugger. If she drops something on the ground, it usually still gets eaten. I don't want a kid that is afraid to get a little dirty or isn't going to jump into something because it's a little gross. I once heard a mom yell at her daughter for putting Mckenna's shoe on for her; scolding her for touching someone's dirty shoe. "Don't touch your shoes or anyone else's..." She yelled at one point in her rant. I sat there thinking, "really, her shoes even?! You will regret that rule when your kid is 15 and asking for help with her shoes." I couldn't help but think, "wow what a sweet 5 year old for helping a little 3 year old fix her shoes. I can't picture that Jesus made sure people's feet were fairly clean before he washed them, and that he then sanitized his hands after. I think we miss opportunities to help others if we are afraid to get dirty or germ-y. And I don't want her to miss those opportunities.

These aren't hard and fast around here. There are times I say, "come on, don't drink that" to a water bottle that's filthy. I sometimes pack a snack for her (though usually when meeting others so she won't just eat all their food). At times I make the call whether something is too dangerous and prevent her from getting hurt. But these are things I try to remind myself of and hold onto, for the lessons they teach are often bigger than the immediate potential consequence.

I think often times dads have this right on. They don't hover. They allow more chaos. They encourage more risk. They don't overprotect and over-prepare. They don't coddle. I think us moms these days often see it as a lack of skill or know-how. I think that's a shame. I watch Ronnie parent with admiration. Under his care, Mckenna seems happier, more carefree, and more independent. Sure, she's also dirtier, has a couple more owwies, and her clothes are that much further from matching, but really, who cares?! I feel the urge to bring Ronnie to the dark side, "train" him. But the more I watch the dynamics of their time together and their relationship, I realize that my hubby isn't incompetent. He's a freaking parenting genius. All too often we think our hubbies are incapable to watch the kids because they don't bring a fire extinguisher and a four-course meal to the park with them. But I think if we took some pages from the daddy book, we moms would be a lot less stressed all the time!!