Thursday, June 13, 2013

Free to Be You and Me

The boys and I have been at a Mommy and Me camp this week at our local aquarium.  They do some classroom time then we all head over to the aquarium to see the animals we have learned about.  It has been eye opening in a number of ways, especially as a parent.

My little one looks like a spinning top the entire time.  He runs around the classroom, oblivious of the carpet square with his name on it.  Every once in awhile, he will stop and bend down to say hi to another child.  He does his best to make them laugh and completely distract them from whatever the teacher is saying.  He makes frequent stops to our bag filled with snacks and loads up his little cheeks then heads back out the create a little mayhem and a lot of giggles.  It doesn't really bug me.  I know he's a little boy with a lot of energy and I only intervene when he intrudes on the lesson.  This was fine with the teacher's assistant the first day.  Today, not so much.

"You know, we have snack time later," she said to me in a hushed voice as my son rummaged through our bag.  "Yes, I know, but he's hungry now.  Thanks for letting me know!" I said brightly.  (Probably a little too brightly.)  Later, I saw her eyeballing me with the, "are you going to take care of your crazy child and force him to follow the rules?" look and I smiled sweetly.  

We sat down for craft time to do a paint by number picture and my oldest, a true trail blazer, wanted nothing to do with this stifling rule.  I explained how the key worked and he said, "Yeah, I'm just going to paint it blue because they are all under water."  Okay with me but not the teacher's assistant.  She walked by and he said, "look at my picture!"  She smiled tightly then whispered to me, "I guess he didn't really understand the concept."  I looked at her, forcing down my protective and annoyed self and said, "Oh, he understands.  He just chose to do something different."  "An artist, huh?" she said.  "I see."

I imagine that she thought that I was nuts to let my kids have that much freedom.  She probably would rather die a slow death than watch a child paint a shark blue that's supposed to be red.  And you know what, she can absolutely raise her children that way.  Her children probably follow every rule to the letter and find great comfort in compliance.  But I want something else for my boys.  I want them to be able to push limits, be individuals and question authority every once in awhile.  I want them to feel free to express themselves their own way, always.  And isn't that the best thing about being a parent? We can choose.  We can choose their boundaries, help define their life philosophies and let them know  that you love them completely for who they are.

Are your boundaries different than some of the parents you see in your daily rounds?  How so?

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