While I believe that children need boundaries, I also believe that kids should be allowed to be kids. They shouldn't be expected to sit still and be quiet all the time, but it should be expected that they will run, jump, yell, laugh, climb, explore, poke, and test. I think that they should be given the freedom to do these things as long as it won't endanger them, or anyone else, or pass the line of respect and love for others. But all to often, I find myself worried about what others are thinking of me and my parenting skills. Are they thinking that I let him run wild? Wondering why I don't control him? Frustrated that I'm not stepping in to tone him down? Is he bothering anybody in any way? (it is obviously my responsibility to make sure he never bothers anyone...) And then I fall into that trap, that somehow children are lesser people than adults. I start to control this "extension of me," forgetting that he is his own person, equally entitled to express his desires and do the things he likes to do, as any one else is. He needs me to let him be who he is, to not hinder his spirit or personality. That doesn't mean that I allow him to run crazy, but to accept that he's two, and exploring and learning and being.
|Exploring a random church kitchen|
Bug is two and a half years old now and still nursing a few times a day, several times a night, and co-sleeping - starting in his sidecar-ed crib and later with his mama. He's never been what would normally be labeled as a "good sleeper." Even now his average sleep is about 2.5 hours before he wakes to nurse and then resettles to sleep. Even though I'm choosy about who I share this information with, I still face the occasional comment about how maybe I should wean him (or night wean him), that he's old enough to sleep in his own bed, or that CIO won't hurt him, etc. Especially with how far he seems to be from "sleeping through the night" (in quotes because everyone has their own definition as to what this means), it's not hard for me to feel as though I've somehow failed in this aspect of parenting. Perhaps I should try one of these suggestions from parents who get a full nights sleep.
Oh, wait! Did I totally skip over the part where I'm nursing a toddler! at times in public! Yeah, I'm not really sure of what people think of that either. So far, I've not had to deal with any negativity, but I'm always wondering, "What are they thinking? Do they think I'm strange? That we're a bit of a freak show?" So, I keep questioning if I'm making the right decisions or freaking people out, if they think I'm coddling my little one, giving in to his demands, or even harming his development. Sometimes I push off giving him "sidey" (nursing) if I'm afraid it will weird someone out, or I start thinking about night weaning, wondering if we'd all get more sleep. He needs me to remember that for now, for him, most of these things are needs, and he relies on me to fill his needs, not neglect them.
|Nursing Bug with a lap full - one baby, two bunnies, and two kitties, one stuffed, one real.|
I hate conflict. Hate, hate, hate it. Which is why this last thing is always the hardest for me. Every now and then another adult will feel the need to step in with my child and bring whatever version of discipline they think is right. Sometimes, not a big deal. Sometimes he's needed someone to set a boundary. Sometimes they employ measures that are not used or acceptable to our family. I've had one mom put Bug on a time out. I watched and boiled (our little used version of the time out is a "break" sitting with Mama until spirits can calm), but Bug was unfazed by it - sat on the step for a minute and than got up and wandered off, so I didn't worry too much about speaking up. But there was another time, when Bug had a toy he'd been playing with for a while, and one of his friends kept trying to take it from him, leading to fighting. The other mom stepped in and removed the toy, stating that if they couldn't share nicely, it was time for it go away for a little while. I've used this tactic before, but in this situation Bug was in the right to be granted some peace to play with the toy, not have it taken from him simply because he was trying to defend himself. Poor Bug looked so confused and hurt, and I didn't say anything. I felt so ashamed of myself, but I just couldn't get up the guts to confront her. It didn't help that she was someone close to me, and whom I tend to offend easily. I didn't want to deal with the fallout, and so I let my son down. He needs me to be his defender, his safe spot, the one he looks to to protect him when he can't protect himself, the one who helps him see that just because they are adults doesn't mean they are always right. He needs to know that his Mama is always on his side.
Hahaha. Even as I write this, I keep thinking, "What will readers think? Will they think I'm too soft on him? That I don't ever discipline him? That I think my son is always right and nobody should tell him what to do? Maybe I should clarify more. Explain one more thing." Ahhh! See, it's a problem.