Monday, October 09, 2006

Your Arse is in my Arugula

I once went food shopping with my friend and her 2 year old daughter. As we navigated through the bakery section, I watched her toddler ask to be moved from the cart's front seat to the basketed back, which was growing full with groceries. My friend plopped her daughter on top of a few boxes of cereal and some greens and we were on our way.

My first inclination was to question the logic of such a move. Wouldn't 30 pounds of toddlerhood smush almost any bag of cruciferous produce beyond recognition, or at least beyond use? But before the thought became real in the form of hasty words uttered from a naive mouth, reality set in.

Who really cares?

Though childless at the time, it didn't take me more than a few seconds to realize that a few crimps in a Cheerios box or a footprint in the pre-packaged chicken breast were a small price to pay for a free and happy child. I began questioning my own preconceived notions about propriety and limitations.

Certainly, children need to understand the word "no." They need to learn that their actions have consequences. But there are a few things I need to remember, too. The world is a playground. It should hold true for us adults, but it's especially so for the little ones. It's bright colors and motion and refreshment. As long as the kids are attended and safe, why not let them explore it with that wild abandon of discovery?

In the shopping cart, at home in the playroom, at the park in the mud. It doesn't matter. My daughter is washable. So is the floor. Though she will learn early and clearly the meaning of "no," I do not want that word to be my default declaration. The extent and duration of the freedom I afford her will vary from day to day, of course. Not every afternoon will be a puddle jumping orgy of personal fulfillment. But in small ways, each day, I hope to remember that letting her wiggle and squirm her way to a new revelation is what childhood is all about.

And it's what parenthood is about, too.

14 comments:

Mrs. Chicky said...

"a puddle jumping orgy of personal fulfillment." yes! I want one of those days.

Michele said...

Amen to the puddle jumping orgy!

I know what you speak of. I do.

I dont want to say I lowered my standards because that makes it sound like we live on cotton candy and cheetos and dont bathe for days. (Although I did do something similiar one lost weekend in college).

I definitely "reframed my perspective" once I became a parent. I had to. I was way too uptight about pefection because I had so much time on my hands to worry about it before I had kids.

Now as long as I can still see a few vaccuum marks under the moutain of toys, books and other assorted detritus, I am OK with it.

Yesterday we had my parents for dinner and Toddler E got up on his stage (the coffee table) to dance for his grandparents. My mother was loving it but I noticed her glancing in my direction wondering if I would make him get off the table. And a few years ago when I was not a mom yet, I might have done it. But I didnt. Because if you cant dance with wild abandon on a table wearing nothing but a diaper while four adults fall over each other clapping and cheering, then what good is being 19 months old anyway?

Now if he is found at 19 years, dancing on a table wearing nothing but a diaper while existing on cheetos and cotton candy, we may have to revisit this theory.

toyfoto said...

AiiiiYiahhhh. I go through this every day. Am I being a doormat? Does it matter? Is she going to be a pill, will I ever get to the dairy aisle before I have to call it a day?

Somehow, what the lady with the hair rollers thinks about whether my kid is sitting nicely or hanging off the cart or, more likely for me, pushing the cart doesn't seem to matter as much any more.

jen said...

Amen. You are totally right. If we allow it, we can learn alot about opening our own eyes to wonder and curiousity...and screw the rumpled boxes or dirty walls. The world should be seen as a playground (yes, with safety and limits intact) for as long as one possibly can.

Whirlwind said...

And this is the reason I have spare clothes in the van (which need to be put back in because we used them the other day). Who cares if the park is muddy or the slides are wet. The kids can change!

Alisyn said...

One thing that I am really conscious of with my girls is when, and how, I say "no." My parents did a lot of "because I said so!" and "because I'm the parent!" and I effing HATED that. I really try to explain the pros and cons of what they want, or what they are asking for, and try to reach the best possible conclusion *with* them, instead of *for* them.

And honestly, it's SO much easier than just saying "NO!" and dealing with the tantrums.

Jerri Ann said...

I have to preach this "choose your battles" sentiment to my husband almost daily. You can read here http://www.acracknlife.squarespace.com/journal/2006/9/28/relaxing-those-parental-standards.html that he is almost getting it! Cool entry, I like the puddle jumping orgy myself!

lynsalyns said...

I struggle to remember this sometimes ... that I say home to raise the girl, not clean the kitchen.

T. said...

Amen.

Now, when can I have my personal puddle jumping orgy of personal fulfillment?

I do believe I am overdue.

As are my chicklets. I must do something about that.

Binkytown said...

Its true. Thanks to you I let my boy sit in the big part of the cart and eat blueberries as we wandered down the isles.

mothergoosemouse said...

Thank you. I needed that reminder. I need it on a daily basis.

Marie said...

Since my kids are older now (20 & 15) there isn't a lot of sitting in the back of the shopping cart going on...boy do I miss those days. It goes by sooooo fast, savor it now!!!

Her Bad Mother said...

'My daughter is washable.'

Thank freakin' god.

But, yes. And, AMEN.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Love this philosophy. Wish I could maintain it!