Part of parenting is resisting. Resisting the urge to give in to tantrums because, let’s face it, it would be easier in the short run. Resisting the urge to say something sarcastic when it’s really not going to do anything but make the situation worse. Resisting the urge to change your kid’s personality because some little quirk here or there is mildly annoying. Resisting the urge to compare your kids to others’ children. Resisting the urge to use one sibling as a model for the other: “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” Resisting the urge to let television be the babysitter when you’re tired. Resisting the urge to say “No” when “Yes” won’t hurt anything other than your schedule. Resisting the urge to say “Yes” when it’s so much easier. Resisting the urge disengage when tired. Resisting the urge to stop resisting the urges…
Practicing with the small suitcase we’ll be using this weekend, which he will use as his carry-on going to Poland this summer.
And part of parenting is embracing urges.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a fairly typical Monday. Last Monday, we had no school, so K and I went out and bought a new car. The Monday before that, we were out of school because of snow. Or was that the previous Monday? Going back further there was winter break and so on. So today was a normal Monday. Up early, kids ready, off we go.
The afternoon was fairly typical as well. After chess club, I arrived home late. Everyone was in the backyard. I made my afternoon coffee, poured it in a travel mug, and headed out — only to see everyone coming in.
“I’m coming in to get dinner ready,” K said. The temptation was to be lazy, but laziness is what we got all weekend, with the rain, rain, and more rain.
“I’ll go down with them,” I suggested, and both the kids squealed and excitedly ran back down to the trampoline/swing/hammock/bridge/hiding spot area we’ve been developing over the last few years.
“The swing is broken!”
Afterward we had dinner. Relatively uneventful — which is really saying something. The kids lately have been bickering like mad over the slightest thing, and it turns dinner into something less than perfectly enjoyable. We decided to conduct an experiment — the “we” being K and I, for the kids would never agree to it. Not knowing what influence was primarily responsible for their behavior (for it’s not been just the bickering), we’ve eliminated all possible influences for a week: no television, no computer, no friends. Just a week to refocus and recharge. The kids this weekend had to find other ways to entertain themselves when we weren’t playing with them. L read, played with her Legos, drew. The Boy drew, played with his Legos, looked at books. The results are beginning to show: tonight, a much calmer dinner, with no hysterics about anything. In the evening, a calmness that hasn’t been in our house for a while.
The Boy sees me do something, and he starts doing it. He sees K do it, and he starts doing it. He sees L doing it, and he starts doing it.
L has always enjoyed playing store, though in recent years, she really hasn’t taken the initiative to play it. When her Polish near-cousins come from the Asheville area, they might play school, and they might, just might, play store, but the oldest is now in middle school and such games seem pointless with just two.
She saw the Boy setting up his store after dinner and desert — a treat from the Halloween bucket — and she just had to play. And take over. And start directing the Boy. Playing with her can be so exhausting when she’s like that, and I often worry that she might be that way at school as well. She might not have the most friends possible as a result. And part of me wants to do something about that, to guide her a bit. And I have. But nothing has changed, so I’ve decided to take K’s advice and just let it be. It’s a lesson she’ll have to learn for herself.