Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Whatever works

Age can be a wonderful thing. You learn so much more as you grow older. You deal with things differently, for the most part.
Your older children are where you learn parenting skills; What works, What doesn't work. You also learn that what works with one child doesn't necessarily work with another.
One of my first experiences with this was with kids threatening to "run away".
Chris was about three and a half when he told me he didn't like how I was doing something, and he was going to run away if I didn't let him do whatever it was I had told him he couldn't do. I opened the front door, put him out on the porch and told him to have at it. I shut the door. Chris stood on the porch for a few minutes, then knocked on the door wanting back in. He changed his mind about running away.

Aha! So THAT is how you handle kids threatening to run away!
I tried the same thing when Bill threatened to run away at age three. Guess what? Bill RAN away. With me in my nightgown, and without shoes. I grabbed a robe and gave chase, catching him at the playground in the apartment complex.

Tommy didn't threaten to run away. But one day, my next door neighbor called me to ask if the bigger kids were going to the store, because if they were, they were letting Tommy fall very far behind. No- all the bigger kids and I were cleaning house. Tommy had taken off on his own- headed to the little store about a quarter of a mile up the road. He was a few months past two years old. Chris and Bill raced after him and brought him back. He said he was going to "buy candy". I told him he had to have MONEY to buy candy. (Stupid mistake on my part!)

A few days later, the storekeeper called. Tommy was there alone. He had a pile of candy to purchase... and two pennies to do it with. (As I recall, we had to resort to locking the gate to keep Tommy in!) Yikes!

The only other kid I can recall running away was Sam. When he was four, we had a huge ice storm hit Oklahoma. Our power was out for over a week. On day 4, Sam had had enough. He was going to run away to the neighbor's house. He packed up his little backpack, and started out. I followed, several yards behind him. The roads were still impassable out where we lived. He would walk a few feet, and slide down into the ditch. He would struggle back up to the road, and a few feet later slide back into the ditch. I offered to help. As we trudged on up to the neighbors, I asked him again WHY he was going to go live with them. He said it was so he could watch TV, since we wouldn't (Because we COULDN'T) turn ours on. I explained to him that he couldn't watch TV there either- as no one had electricity near us. He burst into tears, and asked me if we would take him back- he didn't really want to run away any more.

Oh yeah, I cried.

Another area of child rearing that changed as I got older was allowing the kids to do more things. In part, it was because we could better afford the things the kids wanted to do as the years went by. In part, I saw that the things they asked to do weren't as 'harmful' as I had believed even a few years before. The school dances that Chris and Bill asked to go to, and were refused- but Becky got to attend? The change of mind was learning from neighbors that these weren't the dope and drink filled, unsupervised mob affairs that "dances" had been at the (city) high schools I had attended. Not because of favoritism, as I was accused of by the older kids.

There is such a conflict between having the finances to do the things I would like to do with my kids, and having the TIME to do those things. Working to have the $$ to do things uses up the time I need to do them. By the time I have both time and money... my kids are grown up. In my opinion, spending the time with the kids, even without money to "do" things, trumps working all the time.

1 comment:

truth said...

Amen!

LOL, yes, funny how we learn as the kids grow.