Recently, the kids and I went to my sister-in-law’s house so we could catch up and the kids could play. Jack and Lucy have a cousin, Ben who is 6 weeks older than Lucy and another little girl cousin who is on the way in mid-October.
As we watched them laugh and play and scrap and squabble, we were up and down sorting who snatched that and who had this first and who hit who. At one point, I found myself with both my children, one in each arm, howling and shrieking because the one had nicked the others sausage roll. Sarah looked at me, wide-eyed and slowly shook her head while her hand rests on her heavily pregnant belly. The jump from one to two is just around the corner for her and it stands to reason that she is a little anxious. Her son, Ben, is the kind of child who would jump off a jungle gym and hurt himself and, without so much as considering the consequences he has just learned, get up and jump off exactly the same spot again. In short, he is an irresistibly adorable, heart-attack on two legs that stops only to sleep. That being the case, it is not surprising then that “the plan” is for her new baby to be a calm, quieted-down version of her brother. But what if she isn’t.
There comes a point in a parent’s life when you realize that you can’t be there for every eventuality. To me, learning to accept your limitations as a mother is key to being a calm and relaxed parent. Someday, somewhere, someone under your charge is going to fall while your head is turned. Some are more serious than others but if children always learned the easy-way-out, what kind of adults would they make.
Case in point. Your child is playing in the park and some kid snatches the ball out of your child hands. Your child is upset and starts to wail. In this case, I would intervene, tell the child that it wasn’t his ball and that he must ask Jack if he wants to play with it. Sometimes, when Jack has been upset by somebody at a party or something, I will give him a cuddle and calm him down and then, once he has his breath back, I will tell him to go and ask the offender to say sorry because that really hurt. It is REALLY surprising how often it works. It’s is so gratifying to see children attempt to solve their own problems and even more so when they succeed.
Another case in point. Lucy and Ben are playing and Lucy won’t get off Ben’s bike. The yell for intervention begins. For this, I will try to ignore them as best I can. As far as I’m concerned, they are cousins, family. They will be negotiating with one another their whole lives so they may as well start learning now. Something, somewhere will have to give. Both will make compromises with one another and it is those steps they take together that will form the foundation of a very special relationship.
What I have learned from this: You won’t always be there to protect them and for that, you can only prepare them.