- Published on Thursday, 04 March 2010 10:11
Admittedly, it's difficult to watch our children stumble and fall, make mistakes, endure frustrations and inevitably...cry when things don't go their way. While we may want to fix everything for them - and offer an easy and tearless journey - that's just not realistic. Allowing those tears to fall can actually build character, depth and an ability to navigate the world and think critically about their choices.
My children are now 11, 3 and 1. I'll share with you a few of the things I've seen and learned over the years. Things that I thought might do life-long damage but have come to realize...are just a part of every healthy, happy childhood. Perhaps this will give you a little comfort :-)
10 things you and your children will survive, believe it or not:
1. Every time you say "No! You can NOT have candy for breakfast!" the tears will fall. Holy toledo - it's like the end of the world is upon us. This will continue until your kid is about 12. Be strong! Don't give up! Eventually, they tire out.
2. There are going to be times when your child is not invited to a birthday party. In my house, we have a rule: You can invite ONE kid from class or ALL kids from class. The choice is theirs. Not all parents have this rule, though. Some of them allow their children to invite everyone BUT one kid. Totally un-cool, in my opinion. But it will happen and tears will fall. Just hug your kid and give him/her a butt load of ice cream. The ice cream headache will knock him/her unconscious and by the time they awake, everything will be fine.
3. Your kids are going to fall down. Get over it. Buy some bandaides at Walmart and keep a bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide in the cupboard. Every time you pour that stuff over a cut it bubbles up. This is COOL. Kids love it. You can say something like: "Oh, my goodness! Look at those bubbles! I have NEVER seen that happen before. Only to you. Your cuts really must have superpowers to make that happen. I envy your scrapes. I wish MY cuts would bubble up like that." If your kid doesn't laugh at this, you have more serious issues going on than a little cut.
4. If you encourage singing in your house, don't be surprised if your kids take that cue and make it their business to sing as loud as they possibly can, day in and day out, until your nerves are hanging by a thread. You have no one to blame but yourself. You will most likely find yourself yelling at your kids, at some point. "Holy cow! Do you have an OFF BUTTON? Can we just have QUIET for like TWO FREAK'N minutes, please?" This will make your child cry. "What did I do wrong? I'm just singing! You told me it was good to sing! That it would build my self esteem and make the world happy! Were you LYING to me?" Just apologize for your rude behavior and tell your child to keep singing. What do you think they created Tylenol for, anyway?
5. Very few children have clothing that fits "just right." There will come a day that you'll send your kid off to school (unless you home school) and you think: "Oh my holy cow. My kid is 4 years old but I just sent him to school in 2 Toddler pants. I'm the worst mother ever. The teacher is going to call, asking if our family needs to *talk* about anything. How embarrassing. I SUCK." Remind yourself that most of our kid's clothing is produced in countries where the model children are either much taller or much shorter. Therefore, nothing will EVER fit perfectly. You can blame just about anything on outsourcing. Try it.
6. As your kids get older they will accuse you of being 'out of it', 'old farty' and 'determined to ruin their lives.' Sure. I came out of my mother's womb as a 30+ woman with children. I never did have a childhood and I never felt the way you do. No possible way can I relate to how you are feeling. As if. The word "hate" will be tossed around. Please note, the definition of "hate" when used as a verb: To feel hostility or animosity toward. Now really - that ain't so bad. I feel hostility toward certain people on an hourly basis. Tell your child that there MUST be a more useful and descriptive term they can use when expressing their disdain for you. Give your child a Thesaurus and tell him/her to search through, until a more intelligent term is found. Little will they realize - this teaches all kinds of things: reading, literacy, critical thinking, index use and more. See? You won.
7. At some point your child will become obsessed with a particular DVD. This is one of the most annoying things a parent can endure. Watching My Little Pony 17 times in one day is enough to drive anyone Mad. Again - you have no one to blame but yourself. You stuck that My Little Pony video on during a moment of parental exhaustion. "Here! Just sit down, be quiet and watch a DVD for 30 minutes! Mommy will be in the bathroom hiding from you, breathing in the fumes from a shampoo bottle. When I'm done, I'll come back out - a little more relaxed and ready to be your Mommy again." When you came back out, the Mommy Little Pony drug had hit you kid's bloodstream. "Again! Again! My Little Pony! Again! Again! NOW!!!" The Pony High may last for as long as 3 weeks. Remember: Tylenol.
8. If you decide to be a parent who uses precise medical terms, to name body parts, be prepared for a potential public display. My sister decided that her children should know body part names at a very early age. While visiting a kid's museum in Oregon, she told her young son to go potty. He shook his head - no, I don't need to go potty right now, Mom. She insisted, "Yes. Let's go to the restroom." No - he shook his head. She insisted again, "Yes! Let's go!" He looked over at her and screamed out: "MY PENIS DOES NOT NEED TO GO POTTY RIGHT NOW!" Hahahahaha! I laughed and laughed at that one. The people standing by were not quite so amused by it. So - choose your terminology and timing accordingly. I won't tell you what to do - just keep this little story in mind as a point of reference.
9. At some point your kids will say: "You don't know what you are talking about. My friends know everything. I'm just going to ask so-and-so from now on. HE knows what's up. He GETS it." Just smile and say: "Okay, then. If you can send so-and-so over here soon, that would be great. I have a few questions for him, too. I need help with balancing the checkbook and paying our mortgage. I'm not sure what electric company to go with - small business or big business? What are the pros and cons? I also have a really gross ingrown toenail right now. Maybe he can help with that. Furthermore, I really do not appreciate that you kept him from me all this time. If he knows EVERYTHING, you should have brought him over sooner. What kind of son are you, anyway?" Your kid may chuckle and say: "Well, he doesn't know EVERYTHING. Not like that, Mom. You are so weird." You: "Oh, okay. Well, since he doesn't know EVERYTHING, perhaps you don't really want to seek his continual advice, after-all. Maybe your old, weird Mom knows just a thing or two about life. I have been on the planet for a number of years now, you know. Go ahead and ask me something." Maybe this will happen...maybe it will not. But you gotta take the chance. Lay it on the line so your kid KNOWS he/she can come to you to talk.
10. Almost all kids eat their poop at some point. The diaper comes off, the hand goes down, the hand comes back up. If your child does this, you don't need to assume long-term therapy is in order. It's disgusting, granted. And it's not like you want to encourage it. But you don't want to spank your kid or yell at them for it, either. If you own a dog, you can assume that your kid saw the dog doing this and thought, "Hey! I'll give that a try, too!" If there is no dog in the home, assume that poo eating is nothing more than natural curiosity or a self-inflicted sensory activity. After a time or two, the poo eating will reside. I will mention: if your kid is STILL doing this after the age of...oh...3 - you probably do want to check with your insurance to see if psychiatric evaluations are covered.
There you have it. Just a few of the parenting issues you may encounter - but will survive. While mommyhood is not always easy, it rocks. Of all the choices I've made - motherhood is one of the choices I'm most proud of ;-)
ABOUT the Author:
Shara Lawrence-Weiss is the owner of Mommy Perks, Kids Perks and Personal Child Stories. She has a background in early childhood, nanny work, published freelance, marketing and special needs.