Friday, January 16, 2009

I'll be the mom letting her kids play in the rain while the other parents look on like I'm nuts


You've heard the classic joke-- parents with a first-born who drops his pacifier, will pick it back up and sanitize by boiling in water before allowing the child to touch it again. With the second child, they brush the pacifier off before giving it back to the child. By the third, they just pop it back in the kid's mouth.

What happens when you find yourself doing the latter with your first kid?

Of course, the floor is dirty. We all know that, know not to eat things off the floor, etc. But I've found my attitude towards things-found-on-the-floor has changed ever since my child started a) crawling on his hands and knees, and b) sucking his thumb. Can I really freak out about him picking food up off the floor if he's constantly sticking his thumb, which is otherwise constantly exploring things on the floor, into his mouth? Sure, I could try to wash his hands quickly right before every time he sucks his thumb, but that would be impractical if not impossible to do. So I do what I can, and consider myself lucky to have a kid whose immune system seems strong enough to weather whatever germs he's picking up.

I have a feeling I'm a bit more lax and permissive than most parents. Just yesterday D spent a good half-hour playing with the wrappers of 2 small chocolate bars. They were big enough to be a bit difficult for him to stick in his mouth (which he actually never even tried, surprisingly) and he was having so much fun making them crinkle in his hands... I just couldn't take them away. The other day D and I were out and I was letting him stick his hands in the coldish water of a fountain, and then felt bad when a 3 yr old girl next to us got reprimanded by her dad for doing the same. The contents of our tupperware cabinet have been strewn across our kitchen floor on a few occasions this week. He's obsessed right now with how doors swing open and closed, and so I try to rig things up so he can't close them on himself but otherwise will let him swing them this way and that, b/c he just seems truly compelled to explore that motion. I guess it's the Montessorian in me-- as long as he's not hurting himself or someone/thing else, I'll just watch as he plays. I try not to interrupt, as it does so often seem like he's truly engrossed in whatever he's doing, concentrating on whatever he's holding, and I can just see the wheels in his head turning and some vital part of his psyche or intelligence being formed right then and there.

I'm sure this relaxed attitude will bite me in the ass before long, as he gets better about getting into things he shouldn't. We were playing in his room today and I looked at the big, comfy chair I have in there, sitting right next to his dresser (the top of which is my "safe spot" for putting things out of his reach) and I wondered how long I have left before he figures out how to climb onto the chair and reach the dresser top by himself.

I am curious to see what our parenting and discipline styles will evolve to be like. Over the years I've been exposed to various different philosophies for discipline and seen them in action, and have already picked over an arsenal of tactics I think seem to work well and that agree with my over-all parenting ideas and theories. But while you can think of, plan for, and talk about a lot of these things (and we have), you also never really know how you'll feel or react when any particular situation presents itself, until you're there. I already see myself behaving differently with D than I have when in charge of other people's kids, which I guess shouldn't be a surprise but in some ways is. I guess we'll just have to wait and see, what this adventure has in store for our little family.

3 comments:

  1. jesstwodaysleft2:26 PM

    that relaxed attitude might bite you in the ass, but chances are the overprotected kid is gonna bite it, or get some weird rash anyway. that is just life. kudos to you for letting him learn on his own, and eventually (within limits) learn what he shouldn't do that harms him.

    i was just talking to my bff today about kids and this subject. I was saying that i am totally pro dirt and germs, and anti antibacterial hand soap (i received a large bottle from a friend as a baby gift, and was told straight faced to have all people use it before they touch my kid).

    my bff told me something that surprised me. when and if she ever has a baby, she plans to not let anyone who is a smoker (and i don't mean smoking at the time, just has the habit) hold her child unless they change into a clean shirt.

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  2. A friend of mine had a child who went through an odd stage for a few months at about a year old. He would eat anything, but only if he picked it up off the floor. If it was served on a plate or at a table, he would only touch it if it was a dessert item.

    She gave up trying to get him to eat at the table and started putting his food on the floor (after a quick wipe down, of course). She was very happy when he got tired of that.

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  3. I think that classic joke was born out of mothers who had never been around a child before. How can you possibly have worked at a day care center and still freak out about dirt? I saw a little girl put handfuls of dirt IN HER MOUTH and she was perfectly fine. I've seen the same pacifier go through seven kids' mouths, and all seven kids (plus the pacifier's rightful owner) were perfectly fine.

    I agree with Jesstwodaysleft -- the overprotected kid's going to be worse off. You're letting your child explore and learn on his own. You're letting his thought process follow through uninterrupted to the end of its thought (preventing ADD later on in life, because he's used to being interrupted every time he gets into something that could potentially be unsafe).

    You're watching him and making sure he's safe, but you're not overreacting. He'll be fine, babies are tough creatures.

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