As you might be able to tell by now, I like to think about parenting. And one of my recent thoughts is how to inspire other parents who might be going through similar things. It helps to know someone out there has also completely lost it over the kid splashing water outside of the bathtub. I mean, what’s the big deal really? It’s a bathroom. Everything about a bathroom screams “get me wet, I can handle it!” And yet, when my boys sit in the tub thrashing about or squirting streams of water droplets into the air, I have some mini-volcanic eruption about water hitting the water-proof tile floor (though I save my level 8.5 Richter Scale explosions for when they slide down the back of the tub sending a Tsunami reverberating back and over the edge…again….onto a water-proof floor!). My head shakes wondering why this “mess” is so offensive to me.
Today I was contemplating this in light of what a friend recently posted as her favorite “rules” of parenting (thanks AskDoctorG): “1. Love, 2. Limit, and 3. Let them be.”
1. I sure do love my boys….though sometimes I show a little “less” love in the midst of discussing whether or not Micah will get dressed for daycare this morning (of course you will). And sometimes I have to remind myself that part of how I show them love is in the small touches, so I tousle their hair (which is universally disliked by kids) and I pat their legs (which is typically greeted with an “ouch”), and give them “lovings” as Micah has coined it. But sometimes I realize the true depth of my love when someone challenges my kid, like the woman who honked at Micah as he tried to steer his bike off a path at the playground this weekend – and the fiery dragon of protectiveness unleashed itself within me and roared at the open window about honking at a kid and being patient with a kid, and ….and….and….heart thumping emotional energy of love encircled my child as a shield. This reaction is not always rational, but it sure is powerful love.
2. Limits – ah, the splashing in the tub. I do have very clear limits on “hurting another,” but I don’t know why I decide to “limit” other behaviors. Of course, it’s not always the “bad” things that I limit – sometimes it’s the good as well. Sometimes it’s telling Micah that he’s had enough screen time. Sometimes it’s saying no to a third or fourth “treat” even though you want to give in and make them happy (meanwhile, I fly past all normal limits of portion size for ice cream…on a routine basis). And sometimes, as a friend and I discussed today, it’s even limiting the activities we do with our kids. Just because they are old enough to do something (zipline, white-water rafting, waterpark slides) does not mean that we need to expose them to everything at once. It is okay to have a completely unscheduled weekend….at least I think so…and we’ll have to try it some time.
3. And I definitely let the boys “be” if they’re being quiet…unless they are being too quiet…and every parent knows when that threshold is crossed!
But I decided today that I would add a 4th “rule” and that is: Laugh! A statistic flashed by me recently that said a child laughs 400 times a day and an adult only 15. This is sad indeed. Clearly something has gone wrong – I need to laugh more. And I need to remember to laugh more at the boys and with the boys. So, when my sister decided to let 2-year-old Stephen run around naked for a few minutes after a bath yesterday to dry out his swimsuit-chaffed legs and said “it’s no problem as long as he doesn’t have to go potty,” guess what word Stephen heard in that sentence? And guess who sprung out of range when he commenced to spraying the carpet. Naturally, one day it will be a good idea to limit the location of his urination, but yesterday it was a good idea just to laugh.