Things Overheard

This afternoon I heard my children conspiring against me.

Maybe that’s not the best word. I was upstairs folding laundry. I had my window open (it’s nearly 60* in January!) and was listening to those two nuts playing on the patio. They’re wearing short sleeved shirts and winter boots.

I hear Grey direct her brother to be the lookout while she climbed up on the kayak. She said, “Mama can’t see us when she’s upstairs. We can do anything we want to that she told us not to. You stand here and watch. If she comes downstairs, say, ‘Hi, Mama’, and I will know she is here and get down.” She said she was going to climb on the kayak even though she wasn’t supposed to.

This seems so advanced and wicked to me. Wicked, not in the sense of evilness, but wicked in the sense of OMG, who taught you to be so rotten!? To ME!?!!? Advanced because I don’t remember scheming against my mother until I was at least 8 or 10.

My mom had these huge glass jars she used to get milk straight from the dairy. Years later these jars held flour or sugar or Mama’s special blend for hot cocoa. (1lb. Neslte’s Quick, 9 oz. CoffeeMate powdered creamer, 8-quart box of instant Carnation dry milk, 1/2 lb. powdered sugar–add 4 tsp. of mix to make one mug hot chocolate). After everything was in the jar, we’d take turns rolling it across the living room floor to blend it all together. On the rare occasions we were home without Mama, we’d sneak little cups of the cocoa mix and eat it by the spoonful during after school cartoons.

Bridget and I also had interesting ways of disposing of veggies we didn’t want to finish during dinner. My dad still giggles when he remembers moving from that house and finding piles of dried, shriveled food behind the china cabinet.

One time we sneaked some smallish fruit and one of Mama’s bras. We stuffed the bra with the fruit to see what we’d look like in a few years.

Well, now I’m just listing occasional naughtiness (we weren’t especially deviant children). I am sure I must’ve actually conspired against her. I know I definitely had it in me; but I just can’t remember doing it. It’s just really weird to be hearing this sort of thing and be on this side of the scheming. I think I feel this way because I’m not expecting Grey to be her own big self yet. I think she should still be 2 and cute as a button and sweet as anything. And not smart enough to conspire against me.

I didn’t do anything about it, by the way. I just listened and watched from my upstairs window. See, I never told her to not climb on the kayak. I just told her to be careful if she was going to climb it.

Growing up, I always thought our family was an us vs. them sort of thing. I remember the exact moment of my life, sitting on my front porch at 16, when I first realized my parents were on my side, that we were a team. I hope it doesn’t take 16 years (or longer) for my own kids to realize this. I try to convince myself this childish scheming is normal and natural and that my children aren’t evil. Maybe just a little wicked. They come by it naturally.

Any suggestions on how to do this without having to rule my children or guilt them into good relationship with me?

  1. Christy said:

    No suggestions. But, please, tell me when you get some. :)

    • alltheseblessedthings said:

      Will do. I’ve got two, so that pretty much makes me the expert. lol (kidding, of course)

  2. i object to the concept of parents being “friends” with their kids when the kids are little. however, it seems like there has to be a way for kids to feel close to and like they want to confide in the parents even without trying to be buddies. i sometimes tell brooke the stupid crap i do or have done so that i don’t present an image of perfection. i want her to know that i’ve made tons of mistakes and still do so that she won’t feel terrible when she messes up. it seems to be working so far, but she’s only 9. here’s hoping it holds til she’s in her teens & really needs to be open about stuff.

    • alltheseblessedthings said:

      I get what you mean about the friends thing. My first reaction was to go downstairs and confront her and fight about her sneaky little attitude till I won. I don’t think that’s the role parents should take either, however, because winning–or shoving down her throat what a jerk thing it was she was doing–is not how I want to have our family operate. I am trying to figure out how to parent her through this phase of increasing autonomy and feeling sort of lost. I think if I start on the wrong path of response NOW it’ll be so much harder to eventually move into that place of friendship later on. Because I DO think parents and kids can be friends later.

      I like how open you are with Brooke. Sometimes I think my openness is a sickness, a sort of blurt-out-the-truth sickness. :) It’s not of course, and I do hope that this will eventually work in our favor. If we don’t answer their questions or create that safe place for dialogue, I’m pretty sure they’ll find it somewhere else….

      • i’ve found that when i’m really mad at brooke for some stupid thing she’s done or wicked trick she’s pulled, i have to say nothing. it’s better if i wait until later when i can think it through and decide what i really want to say to her. plus, i think it puts me back in control a little bit, which i think a parent should be whenever possible, and shows her that just because i don’t call her on her crap immediately, it doesn’t mean i don’t know about it. i think it’s good to reveal your cards when you decide the time is right, not just blurt things out every time you’re on to something. if i’d caught brooke saying what grey did about being able to get away with things when mom’s not looking, i wouldn’t be able to let that go indefinitely. i just read a bible devo thing to brooke tonight. it was based on proverbs 3:21-22 which essentially says that you should hold right-ness in your heart so that you’ll do what’s right even when no one is looking.

  3. Erin said:

    I think parents walk such a fine line – especially in the early years – of being an encourager, confidant, guide, and parent. I totally agree that parents are not friends with their kids, but I know that there is a time and place for them to feel like we can play with them, laugh with them, get dirty with them, etc. just like a “friend” would. We have actually said that to our oldest, almost 6 years old, a lot recently.

    It’s the sincere relationship with our kids that I think makes the difference. They are going to be “evil” and “wicked” because they are flawed humans just like us. It’s how we deal with the consequences that I think enables them to see our hearts.

    Ultimately, we parent the way we were parented. It is the only model we have. Unless we make a purposeful effort to either repeat or change that model, it is what it is. I have made a real effort with our 5 year old to explain why I’m upset with her behavior – the root of why she is in trouble. I don’t just want to make rules and enforce them, but to also let her see why her dad and I care enough to punish her in the first place.

    None of us has the answer – we’re all just doing the best job we can for the kids we love. And that’s really all that matters, isn’t it?

    • alltheseblessedthings said:

      This brought up such a good question for you, Erin: Are there things you’re purposefully changing in your own parenting model???! I know I am, not because my parents were wrong or did horrible things, but because my kids are my own little social experiment, and I want to see how adjusting some of the variables works out. :) (not kidding….)

      I’m a talker, too. Grey is very easily corrected, fortunately, and often all I have to do is explain to her how she hurt my feelings or what the serious natural consequences of her actions *could have been*, and she’s contrite and ready to start again. Atticus, on the other hand….I’m still not sure how to communicate with tiny dragons, so I’ll have my work cut out for me these next few years.

      And, yes, I think that we are doing our best is ultimately all we can give to them.

  4. Liz said:

    Hehe, I haven’t heard about Nestle’s Quick for a long, long time. My greatest fear growing up was that I might not be my mom’s friend when I was an adult. I didn’t know if she would like me. Turns out, it was a lot of worry for nothing.

    • alltheseblessedthings said:

      Awww! I’m sad you wasted so much time worrying about that! It’s interesting to hear that, though. I didn’t much consider the future of my relationship with my mother when I was younger. I was too busy with the present. :)

  5. alltheseblessedthings said:

    @Sherilin-I think you’re right about laying the cards out at the right time. I talked with her about it this morning, actually. I was able to bring up your point, too, about doing what’s right even if no one was watching.

  6. again…wonderful blog. i wish you’d link these to FB!! otherwise i forget to check. i will have to start remembering. love how honest kids are even when they are being tricky. you’d better watch that Grey…she is a smart one!! =)

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