19 August 2010

Padding for their heads.

Let me first say that one of my favorite and most treasured parenting mentors is also the mother of a best friend of mine. I was expressing some thoughts on the following, and my dear friend quoted her mother (as she is prone to do, and wisely so), and gave me the synthesizing words that prompts the following parenting opinion.

Does that ever happen to you? That you have a bunch of thoughts and someone else is able to distill them into a nice, sweet little sentence?

It happens to me often - I get to be on both sides (the befuddled person who is unable to get clarity - and the person who stumbles into a situation and has all of the clarity) - and it's so nice. I love team work.

Team EFFORT! (as I say with a cheerleader-esque raised voice around here often).


I was talking to my friend about this the other day.

Children - both mine and others - seem to constantly want to destroy homes. Mine want to destroy my home, mine want to destroy others' homes, and other people's children want to destroy my home.

(I've had two bunches of kids here recently for play dates, and generally all of them know not to stand on coffee tables, which makes me want to have them back. But I've had others at different times...)

And I'm not talking about messes - Messes are clean-up-able.

Although, unnecessary messes are frustrating.

Also, children - all of them, it seems - want to destroy themselves by utilizing houses and their contents.

Collins wants to play in the bleach cabinet, Ada Brooks wants to draw with markers at the kitchen table, inevitably not keeping the markers on the page, and Eason, well, Eason wants to, quite literally, hang from the chandeliers (which is good for neither him nor the chandeliers).

Eason went through a stage, before I knew how to best help him control his house/eason destroying impulses, when we couldn't go to other people's houses without me needing a drink. I either had to follow him around OR had to be prepared to hear something crashing down. It's a miserable feeling. Learn from my mistakes!

I am diligent about this. Or I try to be. We aren't allowed to climb on the furniture - it's just a rule. (Yes, I get tired, and don't always perfectly enforce this, but I'm trying.)

We have a trampoline, trees, a deck, and bunk beds (the climbing on of which I do not police). We also frequent the pool, zoo, and parks. We also have bikes. If you'd like to act like a houligan, GET OUT OF MY HOUSE (if it's raining - go to your room and close the door).

You may be thinking, "yeah yeah - but I don't care about my house. I've child proofed it. They cannot hurt it, and it cannot hurt them."

Okay, then think about it from a stand point of etiquette. You want your child to be a good guest. To get invited places, right? To not be a burden on others?

Your child is going to visit other homes. And churches. And museums. And libraries.
And you want that. You want to be able to take him to museums and not worry about him sliding down the stair railing (like my monkey of a child attempted to do about a year ago)

It may even be my home. And if he swings from my chandelier, I'm going to tell him to get down. I just am.

I also do not need to have him here if he's not aware of some level of danger in life. And it's not just me. Grandparents, aunts, babysitters - they are not going to know what your child does and does not know. They may err on the side of caution, but they may not. And even if they err on the side of caution, it's going to get on their nerves.

We don't drink the bleach, run around sharp corners, climb to high levels, etc.

I love children - I'll paint with them, make chocolate chip cookies with them, spend more time than is necessary. My heavens - I home school my children, teach wednesday night children's class at church, and am about to teach two days a week at a school for kids ages 3 - 11.

I genuinely like the little buggers.

But that does not mean that mine, or anyone else's are allowed to break my grandmother's vases (the ones I haven't broken, that is).

No child is that cute.

And I am not in the minority here. Most people do not want their grandmothers' vases broken by hoodlums who have not been taught the difference between a house and the jungle gym.

And yes, you can put away the vases (mine are not out on the coffee table). But, like I said, my children are going to go to houses (houses who have no small children at home) where the vases are not put away. If they have no concept of things, and of their own potential effect on those things, they will not understand that some things are off limits. And that we don't run in the formal living room.

Not everything is a toy. Bags of flour in the pantry are not to be played in. Coffee tables are not good jumping-off spots. Chandeliers are not items from which one should hang.

It's just true.

So, what did my dear friend quote her mother as saying?

"We don't need to child-proof our houses. We should house-proof our children."

Thank you, wise women. That's what I was trying to do (without knowing what to call it). This is a very, very oft-fought battle around here - mostly because of my dear, sweet, funny middle child. See...?

But I'm trying.

And no - I'm not calmly explaining to Collins that the household cleaners will kill him. I lock that stuff up. Balance. Moderation. Wisdom. That's the goal.

Eventually, you have to take the bed rails off. The corner padding off of those sharp coffee table corners. Nine month olds who have a propensity for putting objects into holes should have outlet protectors. Three year olds should know outlets aren't safe and they aren't toys. But that shift does not happen magically....

Eventually, you have to say "Hey - if you don't run in the den, you won't go headlong in to the corner of the coffee table." Or maybe you should buy padding for their heads, so that when they're around other people's coffee tables, they'll be safe.

We must teach our children to be careful - or we'll be caring for them (and crying over irreplaceable vases) for the rest of their lives.

And you'll be tireder than I am - I promise.

Which is pretty amazingly tired.

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