I’ve realized that I’ve become immune to the weird and crazy things my kid does. We went to Culvers today and he ate a few bites, then decided it was more fun to bounce on the booth cushion. He proclaimed himself to be a bunny-elephant. That seemed reasonable enough, so I would coax him into eating a few more bites, then back he’d go back to bouncing, and round and round we go.
He mostly kept his voice to a normal toddler playing volume (which is just below the volume of you rocking to your favorite jam after 3 drinks), but there were looks and I started to wonder if I should attempt to rein him in – to have him sit quietly, eat politely… And I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Because his shenanigans don’t bother me, if he eats his food but wants to be a bunny-elephant in between bites, hop to it! (get that one!?) I’m perfectly happy to eat my food while he’s playing.
But I recognize that other people may not feel the same way.
Other people may have different expectations of how a child should behave in public. Quite, sitting, peaceful may be among those expectations! They may see rambunctiousness as a lack of discipline, and my allowing it as a lack of parenting.
And they are half right, I guess. I struggle to decide where the line is.
See he’s 2 ½. Which means he has a WHOLE LOT of goofy, excited energy that is constantly trying get out. He is creating his own world, exploring what is around him and, at times, pushing buttons to see what gets a reaction!
I want him to maintain a sense of curiosity about what is around him and learn by trying things and failing sometimes. And I have a hard time deciding when to let him explore around him and when he needs to tone it down.
Because “Quiet” is not something my 2 year old understands quite yet.
Whispering is fun for 2 minutes and then we’re back to full volume. Sitting and playing nicely always turns into a fighting match between fork and spoon.
And maybe that’s my fault, I need to teach him better…but I also don’t want to crush his spirit. And I haven’t figured out that balance yet.
There are social rules and boundaries that we all have an unspoken agreement to uphold. I really struggle to figure out when we can bend those rules and when I need to teach the rules to him.
Because we ask our kids to grow up so fast. To sit in a classroom at the age of 5. To play organized sports when they want to chase butterflies. To worry about grades and test scores. To be aware of stranger danger and appropriate touching. To handle more and more grown up topics at younger and younger ages.
So can we let them be kids a bit longer?
I know that it might be annoying that my kid is too excited, making his chicken nuggets roar at each other, climbing up and jumping down, spinning in circles or doing 100 other active things – but I’m going to let him. But shouldn’t we collectively try to keep that innocence and promote that creativity? Let them be kids?
Of course teaching respect for others is important, kids should be learning respect and what it means to be considerate. So inside voices and quite hands are key…but I also want to encourage singing songs, silly faces and green bean puppet shows. There is lots of time for seriousness, right now is for fun.