I like to watch my friends and their parenting techniques, and I noticed there are different parenting schools with regard to one of my favorite subjects: are the kids or the adults in charge of fun?
Some of my friends are the kind of parents who believe that children should fit themselves to the schedule of the adults. They expect from the children a certain level of behavior. While the expectation sometimes results in crying and complaints, the outcome is usually that these friends sleep better at night, are able to finish a conversation without being interrupted, and are not slaves to their children.
There is another type of parents I recognize. This type is so excited to have kids, that they make the children, their schedule, needs and wishes a priority. They walk with babies all night singing to them, they nurse on demand, they let the kids sleep with them in bed, and they go to the playground even if they absolutely abhor it.
Guess to which group I belong?
Going to the playground might appear an innocent, charming activity which parents and children can engage in together, but I dread it. I have a hard time running around trying to get my children not to kill themselves or be killed by other kids on the play structure. I don’t know how to protect my clueless and far-too-innocent two (who must have inherited their helplessness from me) from playground thugs who take away toys from them or push them around in the sand box. Taking my kids to the playground is in my book an ordeal.
My favorite activity with the kids and what I have always loved loved loved doing with them is read together. No surprise there, I guess. I spent my childhood reading books to myself, and now I want to spend my kids’ childhood reading books to them.
Of course, there are many types of parents in between the two I mentioned, in all directions of the spectrum. And I hope that I don’t always belong to the door-mat kind. I rather hope that by thinking about all this, as I certainly did and do, there may have been slight changes in my behavior, possibly undetected by the naked eye, but which have made a difference in the quality of my life.
There is much to learn, and the kids are not waiting for me to learn it. They are growing up, developing, learning themselves. My daughter is now a pro in playground etiquette and is an expert on the monkey bars. My son controls the football field, even if he would prefer that less than forty kids would want to join his game. And me? Well, I’m still here, reading books, writing books, thinking about books, and eating while pondering books. That’s who I am. And I guess that’s all right.