Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Boo Hoo

Well, that bites.

Moving on.

Another gorgeous day in Southern California today, so I took the kids to the beach. They had a fabulous time climbing all over each other and me, making castles, and getting sand into every nook and cranny in their little bodies. At one point, as I relaxed in a beach chair, both kids took turns pouring sand from shovels onto my person. It reminded me, as I got doused with the gritty dirty granules, of a conversation I often have with another mother.

She has children similar in age to my two, so we spend a fair amount of time together. However, we have very different parenting styles. This mother--let's call her Sybil--is very strict with her kids. Well, not necessarily strict, but definitely hard on them. She doesn't pick her battles very effectively, in my mind. For example, she gets furious if one of her sons steps on a plant in her backyard. Or takes off his shoes. Or leaves them on. Or gets mud on his jeans. Or brings out a game that has a lot of pieces. Or talks too loud. Or too much. Or whines. Or cries. Or . . .you get the picture. She's got a short fuse, I guess.

Just the other day, she and I were talking while the kids played in the backyard.

Sybil: You know, we have these really great friends that live not far from here--their son is exactly my son's age--but I just hate having them over.

Amy: Really? Why? I love knowing people who have kids the same age as mine!

Sybil: Well, they come over here, and their son is just wild. He runs all over the place and makes such a mess!

Amy: hmm.

Sybil: It takes me forever to clean up after they leave. I guess I'm just too tired or too old to deal with that, so I'd just rather not invite them over. *

With another mother, I'd probably agree. I mean, you don't want kids running rampant all over your house, and your kids should know to be respectful of the areas they are playing in. However, Sybil's definition of "wild" and my definition are "wildly" different. The kid probably accidentally stepped on one of her impatients or something. Maybe he knocked over a toy or two.

I can imagine her at the beach with us today. "No pouring sand! Don't get Mommy dirty! Listen to me, don't you dare dump that sand out! I am not bringing you to the beach again if this is how you are going to act!"

That is just not the way I parent. When her kids come over to my house, I expect the toys to get taken out of the toy box. I expect them to run around in the backyard and get dirty. I expect some plants to get trampled on, accidentally. I expect to have a bit more of a mess than I usually do, because there are four kids in my home, instead of the usual two. Same with the beach. To me, it's just sand. The kids are having a ball, and I can take a shower later, so why interfere? Let them have their fun.

Kids are messy, but guess what? They clean up pretty good. You can teach them to help you put away the toys, you can show them which plants to be extra careful around, you can explain the difference between pouring sand on someone and throwing it in their eyes. And, here's the kicker: you can do that without screaming at them!

* Also, I'm not an idiot, so I realize she was probably telling me, in her passive-aggressive way, that she'd rather we not come over either. But I don't let my kids go crazy over there--in fact, they are much better behaved then her two boys, who lean towards the manipulative and violent already.

Well, enough patting myself on the back today. Almost enough, anyway:

Isaac has been wearing underwear since 8am this morning with NO ACCIDENTS. I still have to remind him, frequently, to use the potty, since he has yet to recognize on his own that he needs to go. However, not long ago, he was playing in the dirt and said to himself, "Here's the purple shovel that's mine and Vivi can't have it because I'm playing in the dirt with it and I'm trying real, real hard not to pee in my underwear." Fortunately, I overheard, and we made it to the potty in time. Perhaps he WILL be potty-trained in time for kindergarten. (Though pooping is another story altogether.)

Vivian has also been peeing on the potty, about once a day. Yes, she's young, but I have hopes, people. The diapers, they are killing me.

HA HA HA HA HA! Just now, as I typed that lovely paragraph about Isaac, guess what he was doing. Go ahead, guess. Exactly! Pooping in his underwear! Which is not so bad, really--I expect some accidents--but oh! Oh, the trauma. It was 45 minutes of cajoling, hugging, explaining, bribing, threatening and everything else I could think of before he would allow me to clean him up. I don't know when he's going to recover from it.

Instant karma, anyone?


Last but not least: What is a good, not too trendy, not too common, not too out-there name for a boy? This should be a name appropriate to the East Coast.

1 comment:

isimsiz kahraman said...
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