This week I had the kind of parenting epiphany that I have had periodically since May 2003. These are the things that people tell you but you mostly have to learn for yourself, sometimes painfully. Here are a few
|Summer 2003, D a few months - Your life is no longer your own. You can no longer just decide to go to the dentist, go to the movies, sleep, ...|
|Winter 2004, D 9 months - You should enjoy the snuggly baby stage because it will eventually end.|
|Summer 2005, D 2, J newborn - Your life is no longer your own. For real.|
|Winter 2006, D 2, J 6 months old - If you continue living for naptime and bedtime, you're going to miss a lot of good stuff.|
|Fall 2006, D 3, J 1.5, B newborn - Diapers/Pull-Ups for 3 kids are expensive.|
Two things happened on our family campout that elicited another of these parenting realizations. First, one of my boys asked to go kayaking in a single beside the bigger canoe instead of riding inside it with me and a few others. He's a good swimmer and would wear a life jacket and stay with the group regardless, so I wasn't concerned about his safety. But I tried to talk him out of it, not because of his age or safety concerns but because I didn't think he had the perseverance or gumption to row himself any distance that would be worth the trouble of getting him launched and back to shore. Shame on me. That's the opposite of what I should be doing. He insisted that he wanted to try, and you know what? He was great. He rowed all over that lake without a complaint. What kills me about this is that he might have believed me that he couldn't do it.
The next day there was an incident on the campgrounds, and it was unclear which kid was the culprit. It became apparent that my three big boys were the only ones with opportunity. I immediately dismissed one of them as a suspect. I was absolutely confident that he would not have done it. So sure, in fact, that I didn't even ask him if he'd done it. The other two boys repeatedly denied responsibility. I had multiple lengthy conversations with them, and, I'm ashamed to admit, I told each of them that I knew they'd done it. They continued to deny it. I made them sit for a while and think about it. It made me sick to my stomach. I knew one of my kids was telling a persistent lie - one that was getting someone else in trouble, too. Well the next morning, the guilty party came forward, and it was the kid I had never even asked, the one I was confident would not have done it.
So while my son is absolutely responsible for his lie of omission, my unshakable faith in my own understanding of three of my children, along with a shameful lack of imagination for what it's like to be a kid, made this situation so much worse, maybe even allowed it to happen. And it was so ugly. So
Spring 2012, D 9, J 6, B 5, R 2 - (1) You don't know everything about your children. (2) Don't accuse a child of lying without compelling evidence if he has been honest lately. (3) Don't ever say, "I know you did it," unless you really do. (4) When a really difficult parenting situation comes up, if at all possible, stop, think, and pray for about 10 minutes before saying or doing anything.
So in ten years, if I turn into that sad mom who, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, refuses to believe that her child could have _____________, please refer me to this post. And, from the depths of my heart, Lord, when my kids do something really bad, please let them continue to get caught.