Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Peer Pressure

We all know it happens. I just didn't think it would happen so soon.

Peer pressure.

"But, Mommy, Ethan watches that show!"

"Well, Bjorn - you're not Ethan. And I don't want you watching Spongebob Squarepants/Barney/Ridiculousness."

Peer Pressure is already here with what TV shows his friends are watching (Spongebob), what toys they play with (ambulance/fire trucks), what T-Shirts they wear (Iron Man and Batman) and how many hot dogs they were able to stuff in their mouths at lunch.

It's a little exhausting constantly telling him that he is not his friend Ethan, or Jamie or Michael. That he doesn't have to do or be or have anything just because his friend does. I know it will only get worse from here, but I imagine that reasoning with a 13 year old about why he can't own a $200 pair of shoes has to be less futile than reasoning with a 3 year old why he can't have one.more.freakin'.Lightning.McQueen.car.

But not all peer pressure is bad.

When our little Bjorn was just starting regular milk, our pediatrician recommended we put Carnation Instant Breakfast in his milk to boost his calorie count. Almost three years later and we were still putting CIB in his milk - because if we wanted him to drink his milk, it had to be chocolate.

Until his best friend came over and told him how much she likes white milk.

"I only dwink white milk, Bjorn. I like it."

And then so did he.

Or when all he wanted to wear were socks and running shoes, even in the 118 degree Phoenix heat, and his room smelled like a sweaty locker room every time he took off his shoes because whoever said that babies and toddler don't sweat lied. They do. Especially in Phoenix summers. But Bjorn wouldn't even think about wearing a pair of flip flops or sandals.

Until he saw his friend Will wearing a pair of Crocs when he was camping.

Two years later and he still calls his Crocs his "Will shoes".

Sometimes it worries me. I mean, if he is this moldable at 3, how will he be at 13? Or 17? Will he still want a toy or those shoes because his friends have them? Because he saw it on a TV show or commercial? If his best friend jumped off a bridge, would he follow?

And then I think, "I'll worry about that later. Right now, I'm going to tell him Ashlee still takes afternoon naps and maybe I can get him to take one too."

Parenting at its finest.

Friday, March 22, 2013

True Story

Bjorn knows that he never touches the street without touching an adult's hand, so yesterday, when Peanut let go and began walking on her own, he began explaining to her why we hold hands in the street. Three year old style.

"Peanut! You MUST hold my hand." he said, grabbing her hand. "You can get hit by a car and then you will be flat."

"Uh huh." she says, still straining to escape.

"Then you will be flat and you will be flat FOREVER. And then we will have to get a new baby because you will be flat. And it's no fun to be flat."

In the midst of the explanation, Peanut cocked her head to the side and began nodding. By the end of it, she was holding to Bjorn's hand again.

I think I'm going to have him explain everything from now on.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Control and the Leopard Pants

Sometimes, out of the blue, I will remember my leopard print pants from high school. But, oh, these weren't just any leopard print pants - they were blue, skin tight leopard print pants. I think they might have even had a 70's bell bottom flare.

I really don't know why my parents let me out of the house in them.

And, I know what you're thinking. And you are right. They were most definitely not cool. Kinda like me in high school.

But I didn't care. They were fun and flirty and loud and different. Kinda like me in high school. I wore them all the time.

I think about those pants sometimes still, even though it has been probably 15 years since I last wore them.

Like when my son wants to wear "soft pants" (sweats) with the same Superhero shirt he wore yesterday and his rain boots. In Phoenix. When it's 95 degrees. . . . and hasn't rained in a month.

I think about those pants.

Or when my daughter takes off all her clothes, pulls on her rain boots (what is it with my kids and boots?!) and dances in circles around the kitchen, in her diaper and butterfly boots, singing "Ashes. Ashes. DOWN!!"

I think about those pants.

Even when I'm talking to a Mom friend at the park and my first words are "Don't judge me - they dressed themselves!"

I think about those pants.

Because now, after having kids - albeit small ones, but ones that very much have opinions about what they like and do not like - now, I understand part of what made my parents such good parents.

Control.

My parents could have easily told me not to wear the pants, that I looked ridiculous. They could have taken them away, or, since I didn't do my own laundry, it would have been simple to "lose them in the wash". I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time a parent pulled that trick.

But they didn't. They let me go on looking ridiculous in those ridiculous blue leopard print pants I loved so much. But there are so very few things a child has control over, starting from such a young age.

We tell them when they must eat - and what they must eat. How many bites they have to take. We tell them where they can sit and stand, no jumping on the couch, when to wake up, and when to nap and sleep. We tell them they have to turn off the TV and not to hit your sister and that it is time to do their homework/brush their teeth/feed the dog.

My children are so young, I am still choosing their activities. I choose whether we go to the park or the museum or run errands and who we do all those things with and at what times. Someday they are going to be able to choose them (to an extent), but until they are older, much much older, there are very few things that they can have control over.

Clothing has been one thing that as a child I had control over. One of those things my parents let me choose. (Within reason. I still remember those daisy dukes they took away from me in high school.) Recently, a friend told me her 8 year old daughter doesn't pick out her own clothes yet. That she's glad, because it's fun to play dress up for her daughter everyday.

I feel the opposite. As much as I cringe when Bjorn walks out of his room wearing his sweats (even though I hid them in the very back of his drawer), I am proud that he can choose for himself what he wants. That he knows his likes and dislikes. 

I know in order to stop the tantrums and the fights, to curb the constant helicopter parenting that seems to be what everyone is doing these days, I have to sit back and let go. To let my kid have a little bit of control. Stop the constant nagging on issues that aren't important. Save the control for the big things.  I will still tell him when he needs to take a potty break or a nap, but I will let him wear comfy pants every day..

And someday I will make him cringe with pictures of how he dressed himself when he was little. Just like I cringe now at pictures of those leopard print pants.