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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Relativity

The longer I parent the more I realize that everything about having kids is relative. You think your kid is tall for her age until you meet a taller girl. You think that your boy poos a lot and then you meet another baby who poos even more. You think that you are a crunchy parent (cloth diapering, breastfeeding, etc) until you meet parents that breastfeed longer, practiced elimination communication and still co-sleep. You think that your kids (okay, your three year old girl) is behaving badly. Then you meet some kids that really do not know how to act around other living beings.

The girl really is a great kid. She is thoughtful, polite and very loving. Most of the time. It is just those times where she is hyper, doesn't listen and tries to talk her way into getting what she wants that drive me crazy. I know that she is just being three. She is just learning to be independent and figure out her own way. Sometimes I just don't have the patience for it. It makes me nervous for the teenage years. I mean, what kind of conversations will we be having at thirteen if this is what we talk about at three:

Me: Please get down. There is no standing on the back of the couch.

Girl: I'm not! (She gets down) I know. How about this, how about I stand on the couch, you give me a time out and I say no.

Seriously? Are we having this conversation?

So sometimes I forget. I forget how well behaved she really is. You know, for a three year old. Then I see her playing at the park with another kid her age. They seem to be playing well together, until the other kid starts yelling "Go away, go away" to another little girl who has wandered over. My girl starts in too. "Go away", she yells, "Go away". I wonder if she really knows what she is saying or if she is just having so much fun yelling.

I grab the boy and head over to intercede. The other mom stays where she is. "Please don't yell at M", I say. "That isn't something we say to our friends and she just came over to see what you were doing". I ask my girl to apologize. The other kid she was playing with starts to wander away and my girl wants to go too. Finally the other mom comes over and makes her kid apologize. The girl still doesn't want to say sorry. I think she doesn't really understand why she needs to apologize, just like she doesn't understand why yelling "go away" is mean. (As an aside, how lucky is she to be three and have not met real meanness yet) She does apologize finally.

As I watch the two kids run off to the play structure I say to the other mom "I'm not okay with her yelling at other kids like that. I don't want her to think that behaviour is okay." The other mom turns to me and says "That's not really that bad. He says much other worst things, like f***ing b***h and a**hole. And the kids will figure these things out on their own".

Did I mention these kids are three or almost three?

Yes, it is all relative. Other people may think I overreact and am over involved. I think I am helping the girl to learn to treat others like she would like to be treated. And I am pretty happy with the results.

9 comments:

  1. I always keep an eagle eye on the kids at the park, watching for signs of not sharing, not taking turns, and throwing sand. At home I try to give the kids a little "they'll work it out" leeway, but at the park I want all the kids to have a good time so there's no tolerance for not being nice.

    Sometimes I feel like the only one, though. So many moms and caregivers just sit at the side chatting and completely ignore the kids while they are there. I often wonder if they think I am some sort of over-involved, super-controlling, helicopter mom, but then I remember it's my goal as a mom not to raise any dickheads, and I try to stick by that mantra. I think you did a great job with the girl -- I'd be happy to run into you at the park!

    Almost forgot, I've been trying to follow you on Twitter for a couple of days now, with no luck (Twitter just keeps giving me an error message). I don't think it's you, though, it's me! I'm so useless at The Twitter. I hope to figure it out sometime this week :).

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  2. This might sound weird, but I hate taking my kids to the park. The kids there are so rude!

    So now we go to the park in our backyard. Where it's safe!

    Hugs and Mocha,
    Stesha

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  3. I often notice people seem to think I hold K to too high a standard... sure, he's better than a lot of kids, but that doesn't mean I'm ok with him doing things that are rude just because some kids are horrid. It really is relative.

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  4. Wow! Maybe my kids aren't as bad as I think! :D I would have totally done what you did though, and I am not above "correcting" other kids, but usually only the ones that I know their parents really well! From what I've read of you, you do not over parent. I think you are doing what parents are "supposed" to do! My "sailor" mouth gets the better of me sometimes, so I try to make an effort to let my kids know that when mommy talks that way, it is not good and they should tell me to use better words! :)

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  5. I'm not a parent but what the hell is wrong with the other parent at the park? They think its normal/acceptable for kids under 5 to swear? People like this should be forced to undergo a two-day course on how to discipline their kids.

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  6. Oh this really gets me. We are relly sensitive about language in front of the kids and I can;t believe that so many parents think its just normal for 3 year olds to pick up those words. You are so right. It is all relative. My daughter turns 3 next month and she corrects me if I say "Oh my Gosh" instead of "Oh My Goodness". Bless her heart! Some things did get through!

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  7. What ever happened to a community being able to help teach a child manners. When I was a kid, any adult at all could correct my bad behaviour (verbally). I think if you did that now someone would call the cops!

    I think the world would be a better place if one parent at the park could feel comfortable gently reminding another child of manners/niceness.

    Of course I suppose this rely's upon everyone having the same definition of manners. Which clearly they don't!

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  8. I am always reminded of the Robin William's skit where he talks about teaching his kid to swear by being cut off in traffic. "and from behind me in a tiny little rocket seat..."

    I have no idea how I will handle my son's first bad language moment, or rude behaviour moment when socializing. I hope that I handle it as well as you did. You didn't get her in "trouble", but you reinforced an apology and explained why as best you could to your daughter who is only 3. :)

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  9. I am the same way you are, both with forgetting how good my boys are, and trying to teach them how to relate to others. I do often find that I am the "only" one scolding my kids when they treat each other badly but I read an article once that made me feel better. It stressed that kids aren't born with the knowledge of how to interact. They are born with an "out for myself" survival instinct. We have to teach them how to interact and that means stopping them when they mis-behave and redirecting them. I did this with my 1st child. When he turned 5 I started to let go, I would watch how he handled situations and only corrected him when necessary. He just turned 8 and I think I only correct him once in a blue moon now. It really works. Keep up the good work with your daughter. It is a lot of work up front but it pays off in the end.

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