I’m either doing ok in the parenting department, or I’m messing things up royally. It could go either way. Case in point, yesterday, seven a.m.: I don’t know? Recently, I read an article that said something to the effect of, when kids walk to school, they remain calmer throughout the day. It made a lot of sense to me. A good walk always makes me feel better, but walking to school is not exactly feasible for my kids, unless I’m willing to risk our lives for a little emotional evenness. So, when everyone was itching to go outside yesterday morning, I decided to do a good thing for my children and let them go. They had already been up two hours and eaten two breakfasts by that time anyway, why not let them have fun? I mean exercise is exercise, right? At this point, this story could get really long and involved, because it involves multiple conversations I’ve been having with multiple moms about children and playing and freedom, and what has happened to going out into the back yard and playing with your neighbors. Which is kind of hard to do if your like us, 98% of your neighbors don’t have children our kids ages, or even close. Frankly, I’ve lived here for four years and I still haven’t even seen some of my neighbors. Or, I can simplify this much more (which I will, because it’s Saturday, and I don’t get much free time on Saturday) by telling you that the reaction to my story about my children’s early morning rain romp ran the gamut from, “What time do your kids get up?” to hidden looks of disgust as in, “What’s wrong with this lady, and who invited her to this home demonstration party? She better buy something!” Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but seriously, nobody concurred or thought this was even a slightly good idea. Instead, most of them focused on the fact that my kids were up so early, not that kids need outdoor play, which was the point of the discussion in the first place. According to these mothers, they had to drag their kids out of bed each morning just so they could get to school on time. Outside, in the rain, before, school? Whatever, loser.Suddenly, I wasn’t so proud of my umbrella toting brood, or their freaky mother, who encouraged their puddle jumping ways. Worse, I began to question my parenting skills and wonder where exactly I went wrong, in that we (oh, yeah, I’m not going down alone) were happy if our kids made it to six a.m.. It doesn’t matter that at the time the self-doubting set in (at the aforementioned home party) little people, as young as two, were wandering emotional wrecks because it was 10:30 at night and they were exhausted. Who was I to judge? Their kids were probably sleeping in until nine the next morning. Or, that moments earlier, a woman had showed me a video of her son in his underwear, rubbing his own spit all over his body so that when he jumped on the giant inflatable square they kept in their basement, he would stick to it, which, by the way, I could totally relate to. Doubt had consumed me.
But, I’m not changing my mind about this one (maybe just keeping my mouth shut about it next time). If my kids want to get dressed and go outside before eight o’clock in the morning, so be it! At least, they will be dressed for the day, ok, you caught me, they were still in their pajamas, but at least, they might feel calmer. See, I am a good parent!