Okay, it's official. I have become that parent. You know that parent. The one whose kids you hear clear across the restaurant or, better yet, the one whose kids are running through the restaurant screaming in delight as you give chase. The one whose kids get into a wrestling match under the coffee table of someone else's house. The one whose kids "explore" other people's homes and stores with their hands, bringing things out of rooms or pulling items into carts. The one whose kids grab everything edible within reach, without asking before they sink their little fingers into someone else's food or beverage. You know that parent: you'd really like her company if it wasn't for her kids.
Before having children, let me rephrase that, before I had my children, I always used to look down my nose at that parent. I thought to myself, why can't this parent control his/her kids? Why are these people just letting their kids run wild? And my favorite, "When I have children, they're not going to act like that." Ha! I have since learned that those thoughts signal the kiss of death.
I realize now that I have my own wild things what it feels like to be on the other side of that parent. And I have to admit, I think my preconceived notions were all wrong. It's not a parental control issue, it's a boundary issue. That parent realizes you have to choose your battles carefully when dealing with an active almost three year old boy and his 11 month old little brother. Compromise is a key strategic move. Yes, you may throw the little plastic balls in the house as long as you're not aiming at anyone, any animal, or toward a window. Basically, throw it to someone to play catch with or toss it up in the air. Or, there's this: the cabinets under the china hutch are off limits, but you may, however, play with the items in the kitchen cabinets that are not locked. This involves Tupperware being scattered throughout the house, but it is a compromise, after all. All water is off limits, especially that which resides in the animal's bowl and the toilet. An exception is the master bath tub faucet which may be turned on and played with while Mommy and Daddy are taking a shower or using the facilities. You get the gist.
The real struggles for that parent come in taking the children out of the home and into the public. "The Public" is to that parent what "The Colosseum" was to the early Christians: terrifying, painful, humiliating. Those children sense the fear and anxiety emanating from that parent and use it to their full advantage. Fun family outings turn into the Battle of Bull Run and those children go home feeling contrite and disagreeable while that parent, in her humiliation, profusely apologizes to all innocent bystanders and cleans up the collateral damage, all the while silently committing to hire a babysitter for the next time in the frailest of hope that there will be a next time.
However, when that parent cuddles up next to those children as she puts them to bed, she realizes just how lucky she is to have them. And they, in wrapping their little arms around her shoulders and nuzzling into her neck, realize just how grateful they are to have her.
Blessings and Peace,