Friday, September 24, 2010

on parenting and setting boundaries

I used to wonder over the parents who couldn't say no, who waffled and wish-washed, who didn't know how to draw the line.

But I get it now. The smunchy face, the pinchable cheeks, the lips puckered into a small round O after the heartbreaking PEASE?

I used to question why moms said they had to give in. I thought it was about giving an answer and holding their ground.

But I get it now. The insistent questions, the single-minded arrow to one specific goal, the pestering and pants-tugging, and finally the brain-numbing screeching for a cookie, a cooooooooooooooookie, A COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I used to roll my eyes when I surveyed the landscape of other mother/child relationships: the evidence of landslides and storms, the buildings in rubble. I thought it was a matter of mindset and strength, parent as the all-seeing all-knowing all-encompassing pacemaker for everything from weather patterns to traffic jams.

But I get it now. I totally get it: this landscape we build, we're doing it together. There are skyscrapers and parking lots that don't serve us as well as they could. And it's not always my decision. Bean scrapes her knuckles on the fences of our world. She wants to stretch. She isn't satisfied with the town square. She dreams of the fields she can see peeking over the fenceposts. There are acres of grass for her to run wild, and try as I might, my reasons aren't always sufficient to keep her inside these borders.


Shelly Overlook said...

I am shocked at just how grown up Bean is looking these days. You aren't letting her grow up are you?

Rose said...

I remember how I used to think that the Bean and my daughter (same age as Bean) looked a lot alike. Now that they are older, they don't look much alike at all! (Which of course, is fine, since they aren't related). But they are both still adorable! :)

You know what I couldn't understand? A 2-year old that I met that pitched a huge fit because his mom put a certain condiment on some food... and he did not want it! I'm talking weeping and wailing here. I had a 1-year old and a small baby at the time.

I thought, "What is wrong with that mother, that she lets her kid pitch a fit like that? My kids will NEVER do that."

Of course, by now, I've eaten my words at least 3 times, and will eat them a 4th time, I'm sure.

Amy said...

Amen, sister. It's a constant battle for me - when to give in and when not to.

Erin P said...

I think the big key is thinking before you say "no" the first time. I feel I was both "loose" with my son in letting him explore but quite "strict" when it came to certain specific things, on which I never wavered.

Bethsix said...

Those piggies are so cute on Bean. How is it possible that her hair has gotten sooo loooonng?

So, here's another level. I don't feel like I'm a waffly parent, but the more kids I've added, and the more independent they've become, the more they've each needed something different, and the more they've all seen what we do with the others.

This is a bad example, but say one of them eats really well at dinner and wants a popsicle. Kid 3 (SWEETTOOTH) doesn't understand why Kid 1 gets a popsicle and he doesn't. And he's literally TOO YOUNG to even UNDERSTAND. It's too complex an idea for him, what and how much he ate, given his age and size and likes, vs. his sibling. And so there is SCREAMINGSCREAMINGBLOODYMURDERSCREAMINGDEATH. I have a really hard time standing my ground unless it's something REALLY serious, partly because it involves such soulsucking screaming. Happens NONSTOP at my house. Ugh.

They seem to be less and less behaved the more kids we have and the older they get. Surely there's a plateau at some point, though, right?

We still get compliments a lot of the time about how good our kids are in public. That's nice. I never tell strangers how much of a crapshoot it is. It's fine for them to think I'm awesome. :)