If you’ve been a parent long (or even mentioned the idea of wanting to be a parent) or just announced a pregnancy, you’ve gotten a barrage of unsolicited-yet-possibly-well-meaning advice—things you should do, things you shouldn’t do, and everything in between. “You’re going to ruin that baby if you do/don’t do (insert any action or activity).”
In honor of the dozens of times…hundreds of times, even…that I’ve heard that statement, here are (at least) 10 Ways I’ve Ruined My Child:
1. I held her all the time when she was a baby. Sometime, somewhere, someone thought that you could actually hold a baby TOO MUCH. Then, by doing so, you’d never be able to get anything done ever again—even when they’re teenagers–because they’ll want you to hold them. For whatever it’s worth, Lily is able to occupy herself and play alone while I *gasp* get things done!
2. Sometimes (ok, ok, MOST of the time) I am a short order cook. You all remember my picky eater post. While things have begun improving, she still isn’t eating everything we eat. My husband and I eat a primal/paleo diet. Many of our favorite dishes have spices and flavors that her palate isn’t accustomed to, so she eats something different. She eats, we eat, everyone is happy.
3. We buy her “special” things for no reason. We buy her things because we’re able to, because we want to, and because—at the end of the day—she’s a really good kid. She’s not Violet from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. She’s got great manners, she is helpful, and she appreciates what she has. If her attitude towards this ever changes, so will ours.
4. I’ve let the TV (or tablet) be a babysitter. There are some days that I’m giving 250% and totally winning at parenting, working, and wife-ing. There are other days when I’m barely hanging on by a thread, and that thread is made of caffeine (or wine) and chocolate (or more wine), and I’ve put Lily (and sometimes, my husband!) in front of the tv and disappeared into another room to collect myself for a while.
5. She sleeps in our bed. Almost always. I know, this is a source of argument among MANY mothers and advice givers. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said we will NEVER GET HER OUT OF OUR BED. We will, and I will miss these days when she cuddles up with me SO much.
6. We make messes. Lots of messes. And sometimes, I don’t make her clean them up. I do it for her or we leave it out until we feel like cleaning it up. Am I teaching her to be irresponsible? I don’t know. I DO know that she has a list of chores including cleaning up her toys; and, for the most part, we’re successful.
7. We’ve changed her clothes at her demand and/or let her leave the house in costumes or non-matching clothing she picked out herself. I’m all about teaching her choices AND letting her be herself. Yesterday, “herself” was Tinkerbell—including wings. Today, it was “I’m so tired, I want to wear my pajamas to MiMi’s house.”
8. We let her say words like “stupid,” “fart,” and “hate.” She knows VERY well that people are never “stupid” and that it’s only ok to “hate” things—like tomatoes. She respects what we tell her and uses those words the “right” way. As far as the preteen boy words like burp and fart…she has six older boy cousins ranging from almost 10 to 17. They all say these words. Some people have criticized us for this because those words aren’t “feminine,” but I don’t buy into the idea that some words are ok for boys and not for girls.
9. We aren’t forcing her to play any sports or get involved with dance, gymnastics, or cheer. She likes video games. Drawing. Imaginary play. She loves playing outside, but so far, organized sports, dance, gymnastics, cheerleading, and the like are NOT her thing. I’m not forcing her to do something for the “team learning experience” I hear so much about. When she asks to go to a dance class, THEN we will try it out. There are great things that come from being a part of a team, but only when you WANT to be.
10. We did/do everything on demand. When she was a baby, we fed her when she was hungry. She slept when she was tired. She let us know, and we complied. Now? It’s still the same. She knows she will sit with us at dinner whether she’s hungry or not, and she knows there is a cut off time for food (as in, she’s not getting it when I say it’s bed time). And, even though she’s five, we still let her and encourage her to nap when she’s tired—whenever that may be. Acting “on demand” has never interfered with anything we do. We do what we want when we want—if she’s sleeping, then she sleeps through it, or if she’s hungry, I take snacks. I can’t tell you how much flack I caught—and continue to catch— for this. I’m raising a dictator, and that’s not going to end well, they say. I look at my daughter and see a well behaved, healthy, active child, and nary a sign of impending doom in sight.