Mother enters pre-k classroom. She walks up to the teacher.
Mother: So, how was Child today? Did she drink enough water? Did she draw any new pictures? She’s been having the sniffles lately. I think she might be getting sick. I’ll probably keep her home from school tomorrow. Just in case. Child! Come on honey, let’s go home where I’ll cook you a wholesome and nutritious meal made entirely from items grown in the garden in our backyard. Then we’ll have lots of fun cleaning your room and bleaching every surface in the house to get rid of all the bad germs.
Mother clutches small girl’s hand as they exit the classroom.
This scene may have been exaggerated for narrative purposes.
Mother: We’re giving our child peanut butter for the first time ever. Let’s watch her carefully, just in case she has an allergic reaction.
Mother: Child! Go clean up your room right now. It’s a disaster. Look! There’s a toy on the floor, and one of your books is not on the bookshelf.
I am none of these mothers.
When I pick T up from school, I sit and talk with his teacher. Not about his schooling. Usually it’s not about T at all. We talk about how the kids are slowing driving her insane, about how I’m not sleeping at night, about…stuff.
T has no allergies (so far). I was really bad when he was younger. I gave him peanuts before the recommended age. I’ve never had to deal with serious food allergies in my life, so I don’t have that background. I didn’t really think anything of it. I’m only just now seeing, through the eyes of other bloggers, how serious of an issue it really is.
I don’t really make T clean his room very often. There are pretty much always toys on the floor in his room. When I was a kid, I had to keep my room clean all the time. I didn’t understand it. That room is T’s space. He can do what he wants (within reason) with that space. We have an agreement. The doorway must be kept clear, and there must be enough space for me to walk to his closet. If the mess gets really bad (as in, can’t see the floor), then he cleans it up. Sometimes without me saying anything.
T doesn’t have a bedtime. He goes to bed between 8:30 and 9:30 every night, but it just depends on when I feel like going through the steps to get him ready for bed. And on weekends? Sometimes he’s up until 10:30. Again, it depends on if I feel like getting him ready for bed, if I’m up for the fight, and whether I’m planning on going to bed at the same time as him or not.
Like tonight? He went to bed closer to 8:30 because I knew I wanted the time to get some writing done. And if he goes to bed a little earlier, then I don’t have to stay up quite so late to get my writing done. But last night he went to bed after 9:30 because he was quietly playing with his toys while I got some reading done. It was all very peaceful, and I really didn’t want to break that peace.
I prefer to think that my approach to parenting is laid-back. But sometimes those raging insecurities tell me that it’s actually laziness that makes me the way I am. I’m often too lazy to put T to bed, so I let him play until he’s exhausted and will fall asleep quicker. I’m too lazy to plan out weekly meals that are high in nutritional content, all organic, and balanced between the important food groups. I cook a lot of pasta, because it’s easy. I steam broccoli because it requires pretty much zero effort (and I actually have a kid who is very fond of vegetables). I throw nuggets or corn dogs in the oven because it doesn’t require me to actually do anything. I can toss them in the oven and either go play with T while it bakes, or I sit and do a little bit of reading.
I really am okay with the way I parent. We have rules in our house. I talk to T about appropriate behavior, and we often have discussions about why we have certain rules. Even though I have uttered the words, “because I said so”, we really don’t have any rules for that reasoning. Every rule has a reason, and we discuss what that reason is. I refuse to have rules “just because.” I don’t do things just because that’s how my parents did them.
I’m hoping I remain this way as T gets older. I hope I am still open and honest with him, and that we have a line of communication. I know he’s “only 5”, but he is an extremely intelligent and logical person. I believe he’ll continue to be this way. So rules should have a logical explanation. And I’m not afraid to share that with him.