They Are Just Kids

27 Apr

I saw a quote on The Glow the other day that really resonated with me:

“There are many things I wish I could do better as a mom. At this moment, I want to gain more patience and understanding that my children are just children. When they get a bit loud, or sneak that piece of candy, I can’t get too upset. I must learn to remember and teach myself that they are still only little creatures.”

Isn’t this such a lovely reminder to sit back and laugh with your children!? There are times for discipline (I have a post on that coming up) and times for play – and hopefully most of those times are for play because let’s face it, life is short and the more laughter and fun you can jam into a lifetime, the better.

Just this morning my daughter, after asking her a few times to go ahead and get dressed, decided that this would be the appropriate time for an undies fight. What’s an undies fight? Oh, you know, she just takes EVERY SINGLE PAIR of undies out of her drawer and throws them up in the air. Over. And over. And over again. Now our first instinct may be to say, ahhh come on kid! I JUST put those all away last night after doing like a dozen loads of laundry. Or, ahhhh man, you are making a MESS! Or simply, STOP! But I have learned that none of these responses gets us anywhere. For one thing, they are already all over the floor so you can’t go back in time and keep them all lined up in her drawer so you might as well shrug your shoulders and get her to put them back when she’s ready. Another thing is…well, isn’t it too much fun to fling stuff up in the air and jump and scream and laugh? I mean isn’t that what being a child is all about? As an adult, this behavior is viewed as “childish” and “obnoxious” so why don’t you take this opportunity to do it with someone who is expected to do such things? Jump on up and down with her and throw those undies!!! Believe me, this is MUCH more fun than standing there yelling at her. Plus, it instills in her that you believe in her games and imagination. Even if you are in a hurry to get out the door, what is an additional 2 minutes of laughter going to do? You are already going to be late so might as well have smiles on your faces while being so.
You can apply this logic to almost all aspects of raising a child –

What they wear : as much as I would like my children to dress like this and this, there is just no way I am going to regulate what they will wear everyday. It’s just too exhausting. Even if you have a closet full of beautiful clothes, my daughter inevitably come out of her room wearing the most insane color/pattern combos. And you know what? They fiercely reflect her personality and I cannot help but beam with pride. Who am I to say that wearing flannel-footed pj’s with snow boots in the summer isn’t an ok look? She pulls it off with so much confidence that you just have to go with it. And anyway, she is getting herself dressed which is a feat in itself so better to not mess with the progress. Also, its ok if they put their socks on first and you like to put your socks on last. They are on. Enough said.

How they play: Get messy, get dirty, and skin your knee…sounds like a imaginative and productive day to me!

How they eat: I am all for manners – pleases and thank yous are a must, but I am pretty relaxed with the ‘using your fingers’ bit. Even a 2 year old likes to get their hands in the mix when eating and why not? They haven’t felt what a smashed up banana feels like in between their fingers for 30 years like you and I have. We are over it. We know that that means our fingers will get sticky and we will have to wash our hands but they DON’T CARE. They WANT to feel the oozing of the banana, it feels cool! And if they eat it afterwards, who cares? Just keep those sticky, dirty fingers off my food and we are all good.

Finishing projects:  I often catch myself trying to get my daughter to do something while she is in the middle of doing her OWN thing and I am met with quick refusal. My first reaction is, come on, nope, stop what you are doing and do what I’m telling you to do. But seriously, does this work on you? Do you stop installing a coatrack when your husband asks you to read over an email? No, of course not, you finish what you are doing and only then do you start another task. Same with the kids. If Maya is in the middle of cutting up a paper or getting her baby dressed, I need to respect her time and effort. I need to wait until she is done with her project before I can ask her to  do what I need her to do. It saves a lot of arguing and pushing and pulling. Believe me.
It’s important, above all else, to remember that they ARE children. They haven’t been washing dishes or drawing on paper as long as we have so if they spill some water on the floor or color outside the lines, embrace it! They don’t know any different and are just starting to feel out what this and that does. They are inexperienced little scientists testing hypothesis’ all day long, every day of the week. Let them explore, make mistakes and accomplish their goals (which, clearly, are most likely different from your goals). Get on your hands and knees, get messy and get giggly yourself. You just never know, you may like being childish and obnoxious!
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