I have two incredible, high-energy and highly intelligent sons. They are my light, my joy and my constant chaos. They are the reason I get up in the morning (I say this not because I’m in a state of depression without any other reason to awake. I say this because they always wake up before the alarm goes off. Always! I never thought 7:30 am could feel like sleeping in).
It was a plan of mine to be a mom at some point in my life. I knew the rewards in having my own childen would be plentiful. I also knew being a parent wouldn’t be an easy task, I just didn’t realize how incredibly challenging it would be. Or what kind of challenge, at that. See, my goal in life is to raise my boys to love God, love others and love life. Within certain boundaries, I want them to try all sorts of new things. I don’t want them to be full of fears. I want them to think big, and do grand things. In essence, I want to see them reach for the stars. But that desire to help them achieve also leaves me contradicting myself often.
Which is probably why my six-year-old son Traben thinks he should be an X Games star. Actually, that is his life plan right now. He says he plans on inventing new tricks. Currently he’s trying to figure out if he’ll be able to let go of his bike in mid-air and do a flip under his bike. Then climb back on the seat and land. He says, “Because it’s never been done!”. No kidding.
Needless to say, I’m not fond of his plan. Yet I don’t want to crush his dreams. So we have some mini-sized bike ramps he practices on. And I recently took him to an indoor skate park to try new things. There were multiple moments where I told him and his older brother Creed to not try certain ramps. They’d sit and examine them for a moment, then reassure me they’d be ok. I’d relent after a quick warning to remember what can happen; injuries. I’d say a quick prayer, tell them to go for it if they felt confident enough. And after watching them succeed I’d say, “Awesome! Now let me turn on the camera and you can do it again!”.
Another one of those camera moments happened recently when Traben put ear plugs up his nose and snorted them out. I admonished him that we never do that. Never put things up your nose, never! (then I started laughing and asked him to do it only one more time so I could take a picture).
It’s sad how quickly I can dismiss what I just said. My inner dialogue is usually running at full speed, debating how they will ever listen to me if I can change my mind so quickly in moments like these.
Then there are moments I don’t relent, but it just feels ridiculous holding fast to the rules I’ve created in light of the situation.
Creed seems to be very artistic lately. I love seeing that in him, and expressed on paper. I’m not such a big fan of seeing it on him. He has a tendency to pull out a ballpoint pen, or a Sharpie and color up his skin faster than I ever could guess possible. Last week before school, I heard him and Traben laughing in their room and went to check on them. [I try to live my life by a simple equation: Brothers + Laughter = Trouble] Creed had used a pen to color all over Traben’s arms. Mostly he was practicing cursive, including his own name and the words “Lagoon Rocks!” (Lagoon being a theme park in Utah we plan on visitng this summer). The worst instance of his creativity showing itself was the time he was out sitting on his swing, barely swinging, just chilling. I remember thinking, “He must be tired today.”. Wow, was I wrong! He’d had a marker and was barely swinging because he was inking himself up…I literally caught him red-handed.
So what’s the big contradiction with me telling him not to draw all over himself? If you don’t know me, you may not know that I’m nearly sleeved out in tattoos (and my husband has several as well). It just feels crazy to tell them not to draw all over themselves when that’s probably how they perceive me and my art. I came up with a compromise that sometimes on the weekends they can go crazy with the markers… but only the washable ones. And preferably not their faces.
Pondering all these wonderful moments has me wondering what other moments of contradiction that I subject my kids to. Hopefully not too many! It also has me thinking about my own childhood and the rules I was given that were nearly non-sensical. Like the time I was five-years-old and asked my mom if I could take a candle into my closet to play… (Okay, so it was probably a good thing she said no to me that time!).
I’ve shared some of my dilemmas in parenting. Have any of your own parenting mishaps you’d care to share? Or memories of rules your parents gave you that made no sense?