Friday, May 8, 2009

A Great Parenting Analogy.

I was talking with a friend last weekend about trying to pass down your interests and hobbies to your children and our frustration at this.

I think this is one of the great motivators of procreating in the first place: you think, all warm and fuzzy inside, wouldn't it be great to bake/ garden/ sew/ go to ball games/ play hockey with my child? I can pass down my vast knowledge and life lessons and we can have this special activity together that is OURS.

And that is wonderful, in theory.

And unless you have remarkably patient and compliant children who are really older than you think they'd need to be to do this, it is usually a disaster. A happy disaster and a great story, but a disaster nonetheless.

My friend loves to garden and her children have asked to have their own garden areas. They are bright kids with their own ideas of what should be planted and how they want to care for it. This sharing of interests has not turned out to be the warm and fuzzy experience she hoped it would be: the kids have all but abandoned their gardens in light of more immediate-result pursuits.

I shared that my baking lessons have turned out to be a miserable failure as well. I always wanted to be the type of mom who let their kids help and be part of the process. But my girls have realized that the best part is after everything is mixed and measured and cleaned up, and this is when they swoop into the kitchen, drag their grubby little paws through my batter and lick it off their fingers. Then they disappear again until everything is out of the oven and cooled, when they suddenly reappear and beg for treats.

I was at our Town Park recently and saw a mom and her about-three-year old son trying to fly a kite. I'm sure she had the best of intentions: it's a nice day outside and we have this very attractive, sturdy-looking kite... let's go fly a kite together!! Yay! he must have said. But do you know what happened? They were having trouble getting it up in the air and eventually I watched the boy grab the kite and just pound it into the ground as the mother tried desperately to pull it away from him. Not quite as bucolic as she set out to be, I'm sure.

But you know what? Kids are kids, not little adults. They are incredibly self-centered by nature and this is how they get their multiple young needs met by loving adults. They are impatient. They want instant results. Many, many of our hobbies and interests are extremely boring to little kids.

But if you wait, and set good examples by keeping at what you love, and break big projects into small, manageable pieces, you can experience glimmers of success with your children and it is magical. I have seen this while sewing with Michaela. It's not the way I would do things, but that's okay. I want my children to have their own ideas and feel free to tell me what they want.

I just smile whenever I think of that poor mom trying to fly the kite with her little boy. I hope she was able to laugh about it eventually, and not too discouraged. It's such a great parenting lesson: it sometimes doesn't work out the way you planned, it sometimes doesn't work out at all, but you know what? They were together and they tried.

God Bless the mothers who are out there, trying every day.
Happy Mother's Day!

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