Yesterday I was eating lunch out with Asa and Lydia. Things were a little bit crazy, but it usually is when you go to a restaurant and are outnumbered by children. Our waiter, bless his heart, was a tall man with incredibly long, beautiful dreadlocks who was completely baffled by our cloud of chaos.
When I went to order I said(while nodding really big at him), “You’re all out of fries today, riiiiight??”
Dreadhead: “Um…n…uh…yes ma’am, we are??”
Me: “Oh, well, Lydia…they’re all out of fries. You’ll have to have broccoli instead.”
When he brought me the check he said, “You know, I’m having my first child in December…and you really taught me a good trick with the broccoli thing. Thanks.”
I aim to please.
So as I was driving home I thought about something else that someone at church recently told me: “I mean this as a complement, but it might not sound like it when I say it; you’re not at all like most young mothers today.” By the way, when she said this I had one child running around the room aimlessly, one child playing under the table, and one child covered in cream cheese and jelly. I knew exactly what she meant.
And so, as I was driving home from lunch, thinking about my dreadlocked waiter, and the “not like most young mothers” comment, I thought…I should come up with a list of my “anti-rules”. Things I do that probably go against the mainstream today.
- It’s ok to lie to your kids. Sometimes. Now…I know lying to your kids is probably not something most therapists would suggest, and I’m really only an advocate for it on the small, inconsequential stuff. But we lie to them about Santa and the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy, so what’s the harm in convincing your child that english peas are power dots, or that granola bars are actually candy bars, or, oh…I don’t know…telling your vegetable-needing kid that the store is all out of fries. We shouldn’t, however, lie to them about the fact that Aunt Susie died. She isn’t “flying with the angels”, she’s dead.
- Watching TV won’t kill your kid or his/her brain cells. But you may kill them if you don’t get a break. If you need a break, make sure they’re somewhere secure, turn on Mickey Mouse or Lightning McQueen and go to the bathroom. (Here comes the lying thing again: I have “used the bathroom” a lot in the past few years. And my “use the bathroom” I mean “hide in the bathroom with my iPod earbuds in, singing my heart out and/or crying”.
- Along the same lines, new parents really listen hard to this one: babies cry. Sometimes for no reason at all. And it’s ok. No baby has ever died from crying too much. (I don’t think.) If it incessant wailing becomes more than you can handle, put the baby in her/his carseat, place it somewhere safe and go outside. Take the monitor with you if it makes you feel better, but turn it off. And only turn it on long enough to make sure (s)he is still breathing. Experience has taught me that after about 15-20 minutes, they usually give up and fall asleep.
- God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt. Ok, well that’s not really my anti-rule, but it is something I usually believe in. Should you wash your hands after you go to the bathroom? Of course. Should you sneeze in your hand and then shake someone else’s hand? No. But should you use hand sanitizer every time you touch someone or something? No. Remember than your child needs exposure to some germs and allergens in order to build up immunity.
- Focus on what’s really important. The world isn’t going to end if your child goes up the slide instead of down it. There’s no need to go into crisis mode if little Johnny writes on his arm with markers. But somethings really do need your attention: teaching love, peacefulness, patience, self-control, gentleness, faithfulness. Hmm…these sound familiar.
Saying all that, I’m not at all suggesting I’m a perfect mother. Far from it, actually. Like many mothers, I would guess, there are days when I think, “Ok…this is pretty awesome. We’re in a groove and all is going great!” Other days I think, “What have I done???” But I have realized that when I let some things slide, I’m more relaxed, my kids are chilled out, and we usually end up having fun.