The moment that I fully embraced the “kids will be kids” expression, and began taking it for full face value, my life literally changed. Up until that point, I was the mom who would get upset with my children when they didn’t take family photos on command, when they threw a fit in the grocery store because I chose to take my three minis shopping before dinner, and when they had a meltdown at the 4th of July because it was 2 hours past their bedtime and we (as parents) made the decision to keep them up for the celebration. I would find myself irritated, thinking “why are my kids doing this?” “My kids are the only ones NOT taking the photo!” “My kids are the only ones throwing a FIT right here in the middle of a carnival while the rest of the world is having a blast.” I was so self-absorbed with my own children (and their many shenanigans), that I wasn’t looking at the world around me. I wasn’t taking note of the other struggling parents, of the tantrum-y toddlers, of the middle schoolers talking back. I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that we are all just parents of kids. Not bad kids who want to ruin our lives – KIDS.
I vividly remember one day when my 4-year old was in his OT lesson (for sensory integration). I was talking to his teacher, Ms. Sue. Now I know that Ms. Sue’s job (in relation to my family) was to work with us on Brecken’s sensory needs in regards to textures that he was/ wasn’t eating. But, because I found myself desperate for help, I would elicit free parenting advice from all genres and poach answers whenever I could get them. Heck, I would take the word of a 9-year old boy whose only contact with children was to pass them in the toy aisle at Target. Again, I was DESPERATE. I paid no attention whatsoever to the fact that Ms. Sue was a middle-aged woman who had never been married, had no children of her own, and had only recently started working in this field when some other things “fell through” (according to her). To me, I took what Ms. Sue said as the holy grail and tried to wrap my head around her suggestions and advice, as best as they could fit within the confines of our family.
As I was sidetracking his eating lessons again, I mentioned that bath time was a struggle. I told her that every bath night yielded the same results – Him refusing to get in, him being forced to get in, him screaming throughout, him being punished with the loss of bed time books or snuggles after his behavior, me feeling upset and frustrated the next several hours after he went to bed, unable to complete my own required work in the evening. She ever so innocently (and now as I look back at it, possibly with an air of “well duh”) said, “How important are baths?” At the time, I remember she instantly lost all credibility in my eyes. OF COURSE HE NEEDS TO TAKE BATHS – HE’S A SMELLY, DIRTY KID. THIS LADY KNOWS NOTHING! WE QUIT!!!! I now realize I was the idiot.
Our beloved pediatrician, Dr. Bodine, once told me to choose my battles. In choosing, he stated that there are three simple things that NO ONE can EVER force a child to do, if they don’t want to do it.
He told me parents drive themselves mad trying to force these three things, and in the process spend hundreds of dollars on gimmicks, books and apparatuses. All to no avail. The bottom line is kids will be kids. Then, eventually, they won’t be kids anymore….. And somehow between “kids” and “no longer kids,” each and every one of them learns how to eat, sleep and poop on their own.