Random and Assorted Things I am Glad We Have Done as a Parents:
1. Allowed Couch Jumping.
Now, already I know some mom is cringing. Yes, I let my children jump off our couches, use the cushions to make forts, and other assorted tactical games. This was a choice I have never regretted. My couch is slumpy, yes, and I do think I can hear it sigh sometimes, but happy memories were made. Bonus... building couch forts requires small children to cooperate. Side note, I NEVER let them jump on someone else's couch. That is, well... rude.
2. Mom and Dad are a Team.
Micah and I never belittle each other (in front of the kids anyway) or let the kids do something we know the other has said no to. A perfect little example just came walking into the office as I was typing this. No joke. Just this very minute, Alden came in asking for more milk. If allowed, this child would drink approximately 438 cups of soy milk a day. He asked me, and when I said no, he went to Micah playing the very sympathetic, "Daddy, I jus wan some meeelk" card. He played hard, even had his boxer shorts pulled up to his armpits and the pity me look going on. It would be easy for Micah to say, "Yes". That would render him the favored parent. We both agreed early on though, that we are not loving our kids selfishly, to make us feel good, so we are a team. No need to one up each other. We go down together, or we stand proud together. So, whether we are picking our kids up from jail, or watching them receive their doctorate, we are a team. No one will ever utter, "This is all your fault." We are on the same page with discipline, priorities, and rules. Have we disagreed and had to hash that out in private? Yes. Have we been perfect? No. At the end of the day, we are still a united front. And we kiss in the kitchen a lot. I think that helps too... :)
3. Implementing the Huck Finn Principle.I am still so very glad that my children have been, well... duped into thinking certain chores are a "privilege". Things like mopping, vacuuming, and even dusting are held in high esteem around here. (they caught on that wiping the potty was not a reward pretty quickly. bummer.) The latest chore-reward? Peeling carrots. You would have thought I had let them eat straight sugar from the bag. I think I had them hook,line and sinker when I hesitantly pulled out the peelers, and compared them to very,very, sharp knives. I think this would only work with boys. Tell them they are using a weapon, and they are in. Maybe you moms of girls could say Barbie likes to peel carrots???
4. Mud Fights in the Yard.
The previous owners of our crooked little house had used half the yard for one of those cute koi ponds. (note, "cute" here is used in an entirely sarcastic manner.) That left us with lots of lovely sand/dirt under a certain portion of our yard. Apparently, built into the heart of every testosterone bearing child, is the ability to find dirt, rather than grass, in a yard. On a certain day whilst playing in the sprinklers they discovered... dirt+water=fun. I was faced with a choice... let them play in it, potentially destroying clothes, shoes, and upping the laundry and bath duties forever or say no. I meekly said, "Ok. You can play in the mud." Their response? Thrilled. Ecstatic. Joyful. Exuberant. I could go on and on. It made me realize, I would like to take all the grumpy, stick in the mud adults I know and throw them in a big vat of mud and scream, "PLAY UNTIL YOU ARE HAPPY AGAIN!"
5. Put it in your Treasure Box.
Somewhere under Lincoln and Hadji's bed are their plastic sterlite "treasure boxes". Small children will grow attached to odd things. Broken cars, rocks, valentines from kindergarten. Let them keep some of them. I didn't enjoy having these little "treasures" all over the house, hence the birth of the "Treasure Box." (Which must be placed neatly under the bed... I have my limits here folks!) I think I realized the necessity of this as I always had a drawer deemed the "junk drawer" in my childhood room. I remember having to clean out notes from sixth grade, a porcelain egg with Ziggy on it from a girl scout Christmas party exchange, and other assorted goodies, as a 2o something adult. It was fun to look at what I saved, and you know what? I got a plastic box and they are still in my mom's basement. (yes, she wanted my drawer back, the tyrant!)
6. Find a raw veggie you like and eat it.
I do not care if it is carrots, broccoli, tomatoes or even egg plant. Just find one you like in its raw state and get ready to eat it at least once a day. Have I made small children cry, "But I don't wanna eat da carrots." Yes. Have they since learned to love them to the point they will even pick that over say, strawberries? Yes. (freakish but true.) My kids don't eat like little vegans or anything, they have their fair share of sugary junk, but I want them to have their veggies too, so this was and remains, one hill I will die on. (or leave small children at the table boo-hooing over having to eat that last bite of broccoli.)
7. The World Does Not Revolve Around You.
Why can't you watch your TV show? Why can't you go first every time? Why can I tell you I am claiming the next 15 minutes as "Mom Time" and you are not allowed to come into the office, yell my pseudo name, or break any bones requiring immediate attention??? Because... the world, it is not spinning on its axis, waiting to give into your every whim and desire.... even if it is not necessarily a "bad" want. Kids need to learn that they don't get whatever they want, when they want it, and that sometimes, it is someone else's turn for the spotlight, the gifts, the first choice, etc. Admittedly, Hadji's ability to pooch his lip and cross his arms in sheer disgust at his wants not being met are proof that this is one, we must continually work on...
8.Tv Rots Your Brains.
Yes, we have drilled that actual phrase into their heads. It is tops in my book. TV is fine and fun and good, but like anything, too much of it is bad. I have seen the glassy eyed effects of too much tv, and have taken it away for a week at time declaring, "If you lack the ability to play with toys you have clearly spent too much time on your buttocks just watching toys on a screen."
9. The Girl Must Love Jesus.
From the time Lincoln first said a girl told him she "liked" him, we have been drilling the following into his head: We do not care where she is from, what color she is, if she is rich or poor, skinny or fat... whoever you pick for a wife must first and foremost LOVE JESUS. And... love HIM more than she loves YOU. We have also discussed other admirable qualities, and that dating should really wait until college, but the Jesus first part... well, its always first. :)
10. Take a Hike.
Hiking with our little men is one of our favorite things we do as a family. It teaches them to cooperate: Micah taught them early on that we could only walk as fast our slowest person. Leadership: They take turns being the first one in line, and calling out "branch" or "rock" to help the others and lead them well. Perseverance: Tired? Suck it up and keep moving pal. We must keep going. We also love to see the views, let the boys explore and do a bit of free climbing and such. All in all, I say hiking is a good and cheap activity for the family.
So, there you have it. I am glad for other things we have done too... Micah has taken the boys and taught them things about the outdoors, and fixing stuff, and other man arts. We have made cookies and cards and donated toys we still love. All in all, I think I have neat-o kids... in spite of my shortcomings as a parent... and there are lots. Forgiveness is also a thing we have to talk about around here alot...
The Next Installation in our No One is Dead Yet Parenting Series... "The Perfect Parent, Order Yours Today"