“Just get the milk from your sister, it’s 500 degrees out here and you’re letting the air out!” “Give me the lotion. You can’t do it, you’re wasting it!” No, I’ll pour the cereal, you’ll spill it.” Give me the paint, you’re making a mess!”
These, and many more memories echo in the minds of most parents. It’s so much easier to do so many things by yourself, but is that a sound long term tactic? Would we be better of, or more importantly, would our children be better off if we spread the pain and anxiety over 18 years?
With age comes patience, and patience wisdom. We’re so far past the stereotypical “first child parent” it’s almost difficulty talking to folks who are first child or only child parents without sounding callous or irresponsible. We probably sound and look as crazy to them as they appear naive to us.
We work with wood for a living. We do this partly so we can enjoy the wonderfully unbearable time we spend with our kids. We feel time is most important. It would certainly be easier to cart them off to daycare and go to a job for 8-12 hours and hopefully eat dinner together at a time that wouldn’t choke us in our sleep. However, we made the choice to be poor and together, for our situation it works.
I have three grown children from another marriage and we are raising three together. The two boys are 7 and 9, the youngest is 2 1/2. These are demanding and dynamic phases. The oldest compares his chest hair to his younger brothers. The younger brother decides wether or not every situation in the house is fair. The youngest thinks the kitchen and all of its contents are her playground. We can’t wait till there all a little more human.
The kids are around whenever we’re working. The boys have largely gotten bored with the excitement if power tools and constantly try to sneak outta the heat to watch some TV. The youngest though, she’s in her prime for tool time. Knives, saws, chisels and blocks seem amazing. So again, we safely go through the process of stopping what we’re doing every now and then to demonstrate, and supervise, our 2 1/2 year old sawing a block of wood.
On a recent trip to the grocery store in our 100 degree weather “little girl” decided she would put her sandals on because she wanted to walk into the grocery store where she could shop for us. She remembered the last time she got down from bring carried and the pavement was too hot. So we’re good now with grocery day. She remembers to bring her sandals she doesn’t want to wear because she can’t shop and has to ride in the cart when she doesn’t have shoes. This is pretty much the rubric for learning at this age.
Returning home everyone grabs as many bags as possible and takes them to the kitchen, which “little girl” has made an extension of her playroom. Standing at the steps to the door waiting on “Little Girl” to try and carry bread and milk up the three steps was amusing. Not to mention dangerous because we have lost a couple gallons in this process. All this made even more enjoyable by the unbearable heat.
What I know, and subsequently confirmed is; raising children isn’t easy. I could go to the grocery store by myself and hop outta the truck and be home in 25 minutes. I could go to work and only have to worry about the extra 30 minutes on either side it takes to drop the kids off and pick them up. I could cut and screw wood uninterrupted for hours at a time had we chose daycare. I could also send the kids inside to turn the TV on instead of enduring dropped groceries and 100 degree heat, but we experience many authentic moments being “home parents” that had we chose to work outside the house we would have missed.
We don’t “home school. We don’t feel it necessary. We send our kids to school for social reasons. We already knew their success in school was going to depend on us anyway. We drop them off and pick them off. Usually listening to their expectations in the morning and their successes or failures on the way home.
Being a “home parent” is very rewarding. We’re not wealthy and understand that has nothing to do with happiness or intelligence. We understand that it’s our choice and others make theirs for what they feel is good. What motivates us is we know each phase is the last and we’d better enjoy it while it’s here.
So for now we are hopefully allowing our kids to just be kids as long as they can and as fully as they can so when they’re adults that how they’ll feel. We don’t care what they become as much as that they become happy with who they are.
The freedom to explore and express theirselves now is important to us. We respect that not everyone agrees with this process. This is why we keep our 2 1/2 year old home mostly till she’s around 3, it’s safer for everyone involved.
We understand some folks seek academic success. Some chase actors curricular stardom. Some believe it takes a village. Some folks believe that insulating their child is the responsible thing to do. We respect other folks decisions, as we hope others do ours. We enjoy the difficult process of home parenting and including our children in our endeavors. It’s ugly for sure, but we all learn so much it’s impossible to see how limits are good if the actions are supervised, no matter how much harder it is than doing it ourselves.