Today as I was watching Leah dig through the rocks and dirt in the park to throw them in the pool of water that had formed due to a leak, I thought about how my husband would not have allowed her take that risk at all. Think of all the dog poop and pee and whatever else that is on the rocks? What if she puts her hands in her mouth or on her brother? I know that it is kind of gross but that is why we wash our hands as soon as we get home right?
I think about that a lot actually because I also allow Leah to jump on the bed and be a little rough with her brother and not wear shoes sometimes in the house (because it is summer and the cold floor feels so good when it is hot outside). I let her have her feelings and try not to yell when she starts a tantrum because of something absolutely ridiculous.
I guess I am a bit of a risk taker as a person and as a parent.
I want my child to get dirty, as much as I hate having to scrub out dirt and grass stains from her pants. I want her to experience the world around her and not be stuck behind a screen. I want her to interact with other children and adults as well as plants and animals. I want to let her be a kid and while having some hard and fast rules is super important, it is also good to know that sometimes you can relax a bit and enjoy life. Kids get enough no’s throughout the day anyway.
I think what it comes down to is that I want my daughter to take risks and not be afraid to do so. If you don’t take risks you don’t really live a meaningful and exciting life. Heck, I took one hell of a risk moving to Peru and not knowing anyone. However, by doing so I ended up marrying a Peruvian and planting myself here for the foreseeable future! Making two pretty adorable kids is a pretty fantastic outcome of that move as well.
Think of how terribly boring the world would be if no one took risks. It is important to be smart and attentive in life but it is also important to put yourself our there and be willing to fall. I try and get her involved in as much as I possibly can because I want her to be a strong independent girl and that starts now as she is learning to do things on her own and growing her self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.
I noticed the other night as we were playing Go Fish that Leah did not want to lose. She also has this thing with winning when it comes to eating her food. I am pretty sure she picked that one up from the nursery. We explained to her that it is ok that we don’t win all the time. We just try again and maybe we will win the next time.
I remember visiting the house of my husband’s colleague and his daughter was so distraught when she lost a game she was playing on a cell phone. Mind you the girl was 2 years old and has yet to play lots of games with other children but I am convinced that because there is no one else playing the game with her it augments the feeling of loss and frustration. When kids see other people lose a game that is played by multiple people they see that there is a way to enjoy the activity and not just enjoy it if you win. I am sure some of it is temperament as well because most of us know someone who is super competitive and really dislikes losing.
Also, eating food is not about winning or beating someone else when it comes to finishing your plate. It is about putting nutrients in our body and taking care of ourselves.
I am by no means a perfect mom when it comes to food as I have used plenty a “you don’t get dessert if you don’t finish your food” with Leah. Most of the time it works but I also realize that by doing that it creates the idea that we deserve to eat sweets and things as a prize when really we should eat it in balance. At this point though, I am just happy she shoves all the vegetables and healthy food in her mouth before she scarfs down her jelly beans. (I give her one or two and thankfully she is content with it. She sucks on them so they last. Clever girl.)
I don’t really know what else my observations are making clear to me other than the fact that I am not a super strict rule keeper even though sometimes I want to be. I want my daughter and son to be courageous and yet obedient when necessary like myself. That is a tough one to instill in kids isn’t it? I also want to be a united force with my husband when it comes to rules in the house. I do try and enforce the things that he really doesn’t like her doing but jumping on the bed is such a kid thing to do and it makes my son laugh so hard. As long as I am there to spot everyone has a good time. Let’s just hope she keeps her word and only does it with mommy around…
P.S. Leah is a beast on the playground and I push her “very higher” and she says on the swings. More power to her. The more she practices the more comfortable she and I are with her traipsing around on everything. Falls and bruises are bound to happen but how else is she going to learn?