Saturday, January 5, 2013

In my life, not in my hair

Next month N will turn 9.  While I love the sweet hugs and little voices of very young children, I am finding that there is much goodness in having older children.  Children who aren't so demanding all the time.

Not that it is all fun and games.  We have yet to hit the crazy mood swings and the fight for independence.  I will, I'm sure, have plenty to bitch about as the years go on.

Today I took all 3 kids to a Home Depot workshop to build birdhouses.  We'd never attended one so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I didn't know if someone would lead us and demonstrate or if we'd be handed supplies and directions.

As it turns out, we were handed packets that included the materials and instructions.  The kids grabbed hammers from a bin, and we were off.  I thought this was a great opportunity to let the kids have at it as much as possible.

N read the instructions to us and paid close attention, twice telling me that I was doing something wrong or out of order (she is her father's daughter after all, which is a good thing because I am not a following-directions kind of gal).  She did 100% of her own hammering, and G did 96% of his own.  They both did all their own painting.

Being only 3, M required more help so he and I both held onto the hammer and hammered together.  I'm not sure how many times I had to grab the hammer right before it conked me in the head.  (Evidently, I like to live on the edge.)
M did all of his own painting too.

I was very proud of them, and also proud of myself.....for letting go and allowing them to do it themselves.  I cannot tell you how many dads I saw doing all of the gluing and hammering while their children sat and watched.  I thought to myself, "What's the point of coming to a Kids Workshop if the parent is doing the work?"

Lord knows, I am not the greatest at encouraging my kids to be uber-responsible, but I am trying.  I am asking the kids to clear their plates after dinner, taking them over to the sink.  I don't ask them to rinse them or even put them in the dishwasher, just walk it over to the countertop by the sink.  I periodically insist on living room clean-up of the toys.  N showers by herself now without any help from me (although I do sometimes have to do a re-rinse of shampoo out of the hair).

Even though it is often a royal pain to do this, I almost always let the kids help me with whatever chore I'm doing if they ask to assist.  The boys want to throw clothes in the washing machine, so I let them.  G often asks to vacuum or run the Swiffer or mop when he sees me getting them out of the closets.  I allow him to as soon as I go over the floor first.  His job is to ensure I got everything well enough.

In the thick of rearing young kids it is difficult to remember that the goal is to get them to a place where they don't require my assistance.  A place where they can manage their own money, maintain themselves and their living quarters, cook their own meals.

A place where I can be proud of them for being responsible adults and enjoy their company.

Because I don't want to be actively raising children for the rest of my life.

1 comment:

Keri said...

Yikes. It's so hard for me not to do (or re-do) everything for my kids, since I do like things My Way. But like you, I'm getting better, and I'm trying hard to remember that these are training years.

Good for you for taking them to that workshop on your own - and for not taking over for them! I'm afraid I may have been like the hammering dads with kids observing me.

A little while ago I almost posted a Facebook status about trying not to micro-manage the writing of thank-you notes by my kids. It was SO hard. Smudged marker...using 1/16 of the page instead of writing larger to fill up more space...using only 2 sentences for the whole note... I had to grit my teeth and remind myself that I wanted the notes to be FROM THEM, not from me. Otherwise, what's the point?