I am the first to admit, I am not perfect.
I have a temper. I get tired and frustrated. There are times when I am feeling vulnerable and stressed, and yeah, those are the days when the kids watch too much TV.
So. Not perfect.
But I’ve also taught in Special Ed for almost ten years. I’ve seen just about every kind of parent. I’ve met the rock stars, where you say, “Oh, my God, that is an awesome mom! How does she do it? I wish I could be like that.” And I’ve met the not so awesome, and those… well, I don’t want to talk about them.
The rest of us fall somewhere in the middle.
Here’s the thing that ten years in Special Ed has taught me: you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be interested.
As moms, I think we’re hardwired to worry about everything. We worry that we don’t see the problems with our own children–that we’re in denial. We worry that we’re hypercritical, and that, because of it, our children will wind up needing Prozac in kindergarten. We worry because we worry so much.
I will admit, I do all of these. All that time in college, and then ten years working in Special Ed, and I still don’t know if I have it right. I probably don’t, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.
What I know (or think I do) is this: anything can be fun for little kids. Children learn at every experience. On walks through the city, they are learning vocabulary, and safety skills, and adaptive skills. A trip to the zoo and they learn about categories of animals, science, and the descriptive words for the sights they see and the sounds they hear. At the grocery store, they can learn colors, numbers, money, more categories. Staying home? You can talk to them about what you’re doing. You can have them help cook (because once they hit about ten, they don’t care to help anymore). They’ll learn about weights and measures (nice for math skills) by learning words like half, whole, a quarter, all of it, more, less. And if you totally flub a recipe? Well, I have to tell you, I have gotten more language out of my failures than I have out of my successes. In fact, imagine what we talked about when I presented this awesome disaster for my son’s third birthday:
I’m the first to admit, I’m not much of a baker. This was my first attempt at baking since discovering I’m allergic to eggs, and, well… it didn’t turn out so great.
But you know what? It totally didn’t matter. The kids liked eating it. We got to talk about what went wrong. We talked about textures (it was WAY too dry), and the kids learned words like binding, dry, moist… and the list goes on.
What was a complete baking fail actually turned out to be great fun. I could have gotten upset–actually, I was upset it turned out to be such a mess. But I got over my bad self, and we all had a laugh. We ate with our hands (it didn’t stay together well enough to use utensils), and made a huge mess. But Chewey got his cake, and the kids learned some good language. On top of that, they also learned that it’s okay to make mistakes.
And even enjoy them.
I’ve made loads of mistakes. I’ve made mistakes in raising them, I’ve flubbed with the blog more than a couple of times. I’ve had days when I’ve just said yes to their requests because I’m too tired to say no, and if I’m going to eventually give in once the fight starts, I’m better off starting with a yes and avoiding a fight. After all, better to say no when you really mean it and won’t be tempted to give in if they’re sticking to their guns.
I’m sticking with my story that no should mean no. So, if I’m not prepared to battle it out, I’m better off saying yes every once in awhile, because if I give in after the tantrum starts, then what have they learned? That if they tantrum, if they scream louder and longer, they can wear me down to where they eventually get a yes, and that’s a bad lesson for everyone. Or, at least, that’s what I think.
But you don’t have to agree with me. After all, I’m not perfect. 🙂