I tend to expect a lot from my children. My husband and I look back at video footage of Vivienne’s childhood and we laugh in disbelief at our expectations. “She was only 2!” we exclaim to each other, “What were we thinking?!” It hasn’t always been negative, but just a little… surprising. We genuinely want to strike that balance of preserving childhood while building adulthood. Here’s a funny little thing: Sometimes, when I’m unsure about a decision, I think about what it would sound like in the form of a newspaper headline.
For example, let’s say it seems perfectly reasonable to me to allow the girls to play outside by themselves because I trust them and feel like they are big and brave. Besides, I have some indoor projects that I need to do and it’d be a lot easier to let the girls play by themselves. But then I envision, “MOTHER LETS 6- and 3-YEAR OLD PLAY OUTSIDE BY THEMSELVES“. I remember that they are still so young and I tote a project to the picnic table or don my garden boots and keep an eye on my babies.
Or, let’s say I think it’s perfectly reasonable to teach my 2-year old to read despite her tears.Â “MOTHER REQUIRES 2-YEAR OLD TO READ AND DO MULTIPLE WORKSHEETS EACH DAY” just sounds oppressive. Poor little baby. I tell that mother to cool it.
Even when I think the girls are perfectly able to watch the baby for several minutes while I cook dinner, I need to hedge them in carefully so that their pure childishness isn’t mistaken for carelessness. Think about it: “MOTHER BAKES BROWNIES WHILE 3-YEAR OLD DAUGHTER BABYSITS FAST, STRONG, and HUNGRY BABY BROTHER” is down-right negligent.
It works just as well when I err on the side of babying the children: “MOTHER DOES ALL OF THE WORK ALL OF THE TIME DESPITE HAVING COMPETENT 6-YEAR OLD DAUGHTER TO HELP” is equally eye-opening.
So, that’s how I think sometimes! A peak into my crazy brain. Here’s hoping it is helping me to make better, more reasonable decisions.