If my kids are doing something wrong, I want you to tell me every single time.
You don’t have to sugar coat it, or frame it as “Well, it seemed unsafe, so I thought you’d want to know…” If my kids are being inappropriate, unsafe, out-of-line, weird or just generally jerks, I want to know. Every. Single. Time.
Let me tell you about my 9-year-old. She cleans her room without being asked. She spends time each morning doing curriculum workbooks, not because I ever asked her to do them but because they are “interesting.” She is a rule follower and a sweet, sweet girl.
I’m not telling you this to brag (ok, maybe just a little) but to give you some background. One day this uber-responsible daughter asked to walk to the neighborhood playground with some older girls. I am still working through the whole “Let the kids walk to the playground without an adult” thing, but the circumstances seemed good, so I let her go. Half an hour later I got a text from a friend that said “Hope I’m not intruding too much but I’m up at the playground and I just had to stop your daughter from walking out onto the pool cover. Thought you’d want to know.”
I screamed out loud.
Stoping my child from walking out onto the fabric cover of a pool that is filled with water year round is NOT intruding. Telling me about it is the ONLY next step I want you to take. I texted back: “I always want to know!”
Even the most sweet, responsible children make really stupid decisions. These decisions do not always correspond to the child’s age or maturity level. They also come when you least expect them. It never occurred to me to say “When you go up to the playground in February, stay away from the pool.”
Another example of bad choices: The other day my lovely girls were playing outside with some equally lovely neighborhood children. All parties fell into the age range of 6-10. They were playing with some new Kinetic Sand (Super cool stuff if you haven’t checked it out!) and at one point they came in for water. One of the girls told me, “Kinetic sand makes you really thirsty.”
You probably know my next question before I tell you…
“Were you EATING the sand?!?”
Nope, just putting it in their mouths.
Because evidently even a 10-year-old picks up stuff and thinks “I wonder how this tastes.”
Kids of all ages make pretty dumb decisions. Even smart, kind, responsible kids make bad choices. They make them when their parents are close, but they are more likely to make them when their parents are not close. What I am quickly learning is that with each new stage, there comes a whole new slew of possible choices and outcomes that I have not even begun to imagine. They catch me off guard. It never occurred to me to tell my daughter “Don’t walk out onto the pool cover.” It certainly never occurred to me to say “Don’t eat Kinetic sand.”
For the third and final time: If you see it, hear about it or just divine through your Spidey/Mommy Sense that something is amiss, I want to know. Every single time. You are never intruding or being judgmental.
It takes a village, and if you know my kids you are part of that village whether you like it or not.