I read this blog post the other day written by a mom who generally is a go-with-the-flow kind of gal. But in this instance, she started out talking about how great her son's physical abilities are and ended up in a squirrel trail that basically judging another mom she ran across at the playground.
This post has really stuck with me. I'd love to sit down with this mom and point so much out...but some lessons are best learned on your own. And this is one I've had to learn myself in an ironic fashion.
When Rebekah was small, I ran across numerous mom's who couldn't believe I let her eat pretty much whatever and never worried about choking. Sure - I cut up hot dogs and grapes. I had common sense. But I probably stopped cutting up hot dogs and grapes sooner than the average mom. Choking was not a concern of mine. And I watched other mom's cut up their kid's food into little bits and thought "Man, if they would let them experiment, they would LEARN!"
I recall one particular instance where a mom told me that her daughter would shove her mouth full if she let her - so she really had to watch what she let her have. I sat there in my almighty-all-knowing-pedestal thinking that if the mo would just let her kid cram her mouth full a few times, the kid would learn better. We were sitting at a picnic table at our church VBS - I remember the incident so clearly.
Hey - don't judge me...we ALL do it. :)
Then I had Peter. Peter would shove food in his mouth. In fact, William had to perform the Heimlich maneuver twice on Peter. One time it was with fruit puffs. He just has a propensity for choking. We would cut up his food, limit what he could have at a time. There is one particular restaurant we frequent that serves hot dogs (which the kids love). The skin is pretty thick, so I would normally peel it for Peter. I never did this with Rebekah. But I wasn't excited about another choking incident, so I was much more cautious.
One afternoon I met up with an out of town friend and we went to this restaurant. Peter was probably 18 mo at the time. About halfway through the meal she says..."I don't mean to be rude...I really am curious. Why are you peeling Peter's hot dog?" It was like I had been slammed by a brick right off my little pedestal - the realization hit me so hard. I was taken back to that moment at the picnic table and my own thoughts echoed in my head. Kind of like "HAHAHAHA! You thought you were sooooooo smart didn't you?".
"Welll...uhhhh...I..." I stammered. "He chokes." I finally said. "And the skin on the hot dog here is tough. I promise I hate doing it - but we've had to actually give him the Heimlich on more than one occasion!" I defended.
My friend smiled and said "Ah, ok." And I was judged. I learned a very important lesson that day. Every kid is different. "DUH!" you might be thinking. I know that we all know that...but I really learned that lesson THIS day. That there will never be one set of parenting rules that works for everyone on every kid.
As the blogging mom touted in her post that every mom should let their kids have the freedom to climb and play and fall - then their kids TOO would be as physically able as hers is, I couldn't help but think about little Ruthie. Ruth has no fear. I'm all for falling - really I am. But when she is trying to jump on the couch like her big siblings do and after I catch her more than once (and even miss *cough cough* sometimes) as she tumbles to the ground...I think that some things kids aren't quite physically ready for. I'm not eager to repeat broken bones (Peter did in fact break his leg at 10 mo). And sometimes I'm up for helping her learn (by standing there ready to catch) and sometimes I'm just not. I'm too tired or whatever. And that's OK. She doesn't need to jump on the couch every day. Really, she probably needs to master jumping on the ground before she moves up to the couch. And I will let her do that all day long until the cows come home!
We as parents need to be there to help guide our kids. It is a fine balance between letting them experience things and keeping them safe. I'd personally like for Ruth's head to survive her childhood. :) (And I'm typing this as she just fell last week off a bench onto the hard YMCA floor...head first. She was not seriously hurt, but it did scare the crap out of me.) I'd also like to escape as many broken bones as possible. We've already had one in the family, and I think one is really plenty.
I'd love to explain all this to this mom. She's missing the big picture really. But this isn't something you can explain to someone else anyway. It is something they must experience. I call these life lessons. And someday she will learn it...we all do...eventually.