Friday, July 27, 2012

No Bluffing...

See those faces? The unhappiness is pretty clear...if they were voting for "Mother of the Moment," I wouldn't even be a nominee. While I've occasionally been accused of describing my life as a parent in colors too-glowing for reality, this picture makes it pretty apparent that every day living in our family is not ALWAYS grins and giggles.

Now the question you REALLY want answered: why are they so unhappy? Well, like all children, mine like to climb things. They wanted to climb that rock, and they wanted to "balance beam" across the stone fence behind it. In honesty, I thought about doing the same thing. It looked like fun! The rock wasn't that high, but it provided a better view, and the stone wall was calling my name - a perfect place to pretend to be an Olympian on a balance beam. But...Mom was a kill-joy. NO climbing. NO balancing. NO fun. Mean, mean Mom.

Next question: WHY won't mean, mean Mom let those precious babies climb? Well, it was the little matter of the 30 foot bluff on the other side of that wall, and the sharp, pointy rocks at the moment.

And THAT, my friends, is the parenting lesson of which I was reminded on the trails at the Mississippi Natural Science Museum. Kids don't see the dangers...because they're kids. They see what they want, whether it's to climb on a rock or get a cell phone at 7. They don't see that it's not JUST a rock or a cell phone. It carries contingencies - contingencies that have consequences, and some of those consequences can be dangerous.

My ten year old and I have this conversation several times a week:

"EVERYBODY does this or has that. Why can't I?"

"Because you aren't everybody. You're Noelle."

"Yeah, and I'm weird."

"Congratulations. Weird is good. I should know."

"But WHY can't I have a cell phone?"

"Because you don't need one. Because you don't need to be in constant connection with anyone besides your family. Because you aren't ready to handle the social implications that come along with that constant connection. Because I love you, and I want what's best for you, even if it isn't what makes you happy today."

Some days I don't think she hears much beyond, "Because..." but we keep having the conversation anyway.

My reminder at the Science Museum, and one I preserved in film, was that parenting isn't easy, and it isn't about making your children "happy." It's about keeping them safe and hopefully teaching them that happiness is, at best, temporary. It's joy that can be sustained, and joy doesn't come from a cell phone or a stone wall.

Until next time on the bluff...

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Location:E Peace St,Canton,United States