Monday, December 12, 2011


I feel so boring lately.  Life continues apace, with Christmas presents piling up under the tree and outdoor lights up on the house (which add to the chaos surrounding people who drive through our neighborhood reaaaaallllyyy sloooooowly and always freak me out because for a minute I don’t know what they’re doing and I think maybe they’re casing our house).  Tony took his Master’s in Tax class final the other day and then finished the outdoor landscaping project I strong-armed him into doing, riiight before it got too cold to mix cement.  The nights are long and the days are short and I struggle with keeping everyone doing something until it’s time for bath.


Does anyone else have this problem?  It used to be that we’d go outside after dinner and at least take a walk as a family, if not play in the yard or something, but it’s too dang cold for that now.  So now what?  If we don’t have some sort of activity, Charles gets steadily crazier until I’m worried he’ll give himself another black eye (yes, another.  Yes, I have photos.  No, I will not post them – they’re hideous) or knock down the tree or launch a toy through a window or something, while Tony grabs the nearest newspaper (we get two, and there’s always a backlog) and checks out for a bit.  My impulse is to clean when there is nothing else going on, but cleaning doesn’t exactly involve “minding the children,” so I can’t do that.


But oh, when bathtime does come?  It’s awesome.  (These photos pretty accurately capture the differences between Charles’ and Jamie’s temperaments.)


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Yeah, we got a bath seat.  And we love it.


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(But maybe Jamie will be more of a giggler later?  I just can’t remember when Charles decided that life was one big ball of awesome, meant to be seized with both hands and adorned with shrieks of laughter.)




I was so excited that Charles was singing on stage in the church Christmas program this year.  Inordinately excited.  Stupidly excited.  And you know what?  He didn’t sing, but he also didn’t cry.  And if you ask him, he sang REALLY LOUDLY.


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Everyone else enthusiastically jingled, and he just sort of stood there.


I am really proud of him.  He’s clearly the best looking kid up there, but he’s also really afraid in new situations, and I know that was really scary for him.  But he stayed up there, anyway.


We try to give Charles gentle pushes to try new things, but we never force.  He usually comes around.  We went to the YMCA Christmas party for kids the other night, and they had a “Santa’s sleigh” paddle boat in the pool with lights and dry ice and several teenaged lifeguards ferrying the kids around the pool.  We waited a LONG time in line.  And when we got to the end, he was too scared to get in the boat.  So we left, it’s cool, we didn’t push.  About 15 minutes later, he started to cry because he wanted to ride the boat.  So back we went, to wait some more.  He was still too scared to get on it, but he likes to look, and that’s okay.


One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to just let your kid go at his or her own pace, I think.  So many of us try to make our kids do things, or do them the way we think they should be done.  One of the activities at the Y was making a reindeer bag – basically, decorating a paper bag with sticker eyes and nose, drawing on a mouth, and adding pipecleaner antlers.  I handed Charles the sticker eyes and said, “you can put them wherever you want, Charles, it’s your reindeer.”  The woman helping at that table looked up and said, “wow, that’s really nice to hear.”  I guess other parents were putting the sticker eyes in the “right” places for their kids?  How sad, to squelch their creativity, to undermine their developing motor skills.


I remind myself on a regular basis that the experiences we have when doing an activity with Charles are not about me, they’re not about “doing it quickly” or “right,” they’re about Charles learning.  And so I have to check myself.  I can explain to him that Santa is kind, Santa is funny, we love Santa, but if that kid does not want to sit on some strange man’s lap, who am I to push?  If he doesn’t want to do every single activity at a free YMCA event, what do I really care? 


I think it is easy to get frustrated with children when their feelings and impulses run counter to ours as adults, but they have to learn, and we have to be patient.  And I think Charles is pretty well adjusted because he doesn’t have unfair expectations put upon him, and he enjoys things like the zoo even more because we don’t make it a point to see everything, only the things that he loves.  Which usually means we end up spending a lot of time in the reptile exhibit.


I guess what I want to say to all those parents I see pushing their kids around out there is, chill out!  It might not be fun for you to watch a paddleboat go around and around a pool while listening to the same 10 Christmas carols on repeat, but to your kid, it’s magical.


Mom and Dad said...

Well said.

Jennifer L. said...

We suffer the same dilemma here as well. When the kids get home from school they really need to go outside and burn off all their pent up energy, but not only is it too cold and dark, but they have to get all their homework and chores done, which generally takes up all their free time. I have a Zumba DVD which all the kids (even the baby!) like to participate in. It gets everyone moving while staying warm. We also do a lot of indoor tag.

Trying new, exciting things sometimes brings unexpected outcomes. My oldest is notorious for really, really, really wanting to try/do something new, but then when it comes down to actually doing it he freaks out and refuses. One of the first of such episodes was on his first roller coaster ride. We actually had to have the attendant stop the ride midway through so we could get off. The same goes for new foods as well. Someday I'm sure they will appreciate having had the chance to try new things and may end up being very adventurous.

Leland said...

Poorly said.

K Schimmy said...