Because I am beginning to think they start at two and continue to maybe something like 32? I don't mean to freak out parents of children who are currently 4 and under but I am noticing that just when it seems like we're through it and the small child is becoming somewhat human, he goes and calls me a butthead and throws something at me, confirming my belief that he might remain a caveman forever.
Hello, I'm back. I hope to blog more, now that I have a second rugrat it occurs to me I'll have 4 more years of tantrums and tears to write about and twice as much fodder for material, not to mention blackmail for the teenage years which I hear are just like the terrible twos only with more advanced vocabulary, an understanding of how to operate door knobs, and no fear of going to the bathroom by themselves.
I had an old friend over for BBQ yesterday with her family. Her son is newly 4 years old and she's experiencing the beginning of the end of the torturous threes. The clouds are starting to part and you can see the PTSD starting to fade. It's a beautiful thing. Her visit got me to thinking about a few things: 1) blogging more and 2) How awesome it is to hang out with parents who believe that its best to wait and see how their kid will navigate the treacherous waters of social interaction before intervening, even when there is conflict between the children. And maybe even ESPECIALLY when there is conflict. My friend was very gracious about letting the kids try to work it out on their own, and not a lot of parents are these days.
Because here's the thing I think we can all agree on: our sweet, beautiful, belly laughing, wonder seeking children are also assholes. They just are. And not just some of them. Most likely ALL of them are assholes. They are little humans in training. As my husband likes to say it: it is our job to teach him how to defeat his own nature. YEAH. Let that one sink in for a minute...because it is absolutely the truth. Children are unfiltered and honest and raw and emotional and unregulated and it IS our job to teach them how to defeat those qualities. Case in point: Jack says to me recently, "I said I wanted CEREAL, not fruit! I want cereal NOW!!" And in a very rare moment of sanity and calm I saw this for what it was - just honest reaction. He's not trying to be a dick, he's just saying it like it is. So it's my job to help him defeat the inclination to sound like a dick. Another way to say this is it's my job to teach him manners. Either way you roll it...our kids are assholes. Ok, back to that...
What I want more than anything is to hang out with people (and their kids) and have a full on NON-INTERVENTION policy. And here's why: my child learns very little from my words and my nagging and my trying to explain how the world works. He's 5, his attention span is BAT MAN. What I want more than anything is for him to be fully immersed in the world of learning through natural consequence. I want him to learn that when he says, "I don't want to be your friend you baby-head," that this will hurt feelings and maybe the kid he's playing with will walk away...then Jack gets to learn first hand what it feels like to hurt someone's feelings and maybe it won't feel too good. I could tell him that it sucks to hurt people's feelings or he could experience the shame from having done it and correct it. You guess which way is more effective.
And I want to hang with people who (like my old friend) will not even give me a second glance when my kid says something that asinine and jerky. Because we don't have to judge each other guys! It's not our faults that our kids are assholes! They are 5 or 4 or 3 and they are learning how to defeat their own natures. So can we just let them do that? And can we let them do it in such a way that is more powerful than a nag from a parent?
I'm already thinking ahead to when Rowan is ready to head to the park... how can I manage to get all the adults there to not rush to her side if she takes a totally non life threatening tumble or gets sand in her eyes because she threw it at another child. Natural consequences are where it's at. I'm absolutely determined to let this be the course of learning for monkey number 2. Because I helicoptered around Jack a whole lot, partly because I had no idea what I was doing and partly because I saw others around me doing the same and I didn't want to be the odd asshole out who was "not parenting my kid".
Not to mention, if we let the kids do what they're going to do and be the little jerks they are (as long as there is no physical violence) then that just means we get to have more grown up conversation and we get to drink our beers in peace and we might actually enjoy the warm summer evening.
Thanks to my friend Adriana and her family for the nice, warm summer evening with totally limited intervention. And thanks also to her for the reminder that blogging is cathartic and connective. Now if only I had a few child free hours added to the day. Oh and 3 more hours of sleep. And would more beer be too much to ask?