Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Tis a gift...

Spring break means many adventures with cousins who are off school; we went to the Milwaukee Zoo all day Monday (started with tree climbing at 9:45 in the morning and didn't get home till almost dinner time!), then on Tuesday drove to Madison for the Children's Museum and an afternoon with our extended family.

It was awesome exciting and more action that we usually have all week smashed into 36 hours.

But there's something to be said for simple pleasures at home.

This morning we ran some quick errands while still in pajamas, then came back and worked on our project for the rest of the week, "Making Our Home More Beautiful" which is my happier sounding re-framing of "Clean the Shit Out of Our Pigsty".

I was amazed at how much the kids have changed in the past couple of months. I took them into our very messy utility room, where they aren't usually allowed without a grown up, and had them take turns sweeping the room, with the non-sweeping one putting dishes in the washer for me nearby. Then I taught them our to use the lightweight string mop I bought for the occasion, and they went to town, mopping the whole area twice, and  probably almost effectively as I would have done on my own- and this is a floor that is filthy, since it had a soda (?) spilled on it and not cleaned up AND it is where everyone tromps in after being in the yard or (shudder) the firepit.

After they were done they were excited to keep helping, and they collected laundry, put it in, measured soap, started the machine, carried clean laundry out. I supervised, but stepped in for physical helping very rarely.

By the time lunch rolled around, everyone was still cheerful, and it had turned into a beautiful day. I let them loose outside with the hose on slightly and a watering can with instructions to water certain areas of the garden, then went inside. 6 months ago, They would have done all of the following in the first five minutes:

  • Turned the hose up so high it would have drained our well and overheated our pump.
  • Sprayed each other in the face with blasts of the icy well water.
  • Started a screaming fight with one another over control of the hose
  • Blasted all the delicate new plants with the water and ignored the plants I asked them to see to.
  • Ran into the front yard without permission or worse, into the yard of the decidedly unfriendly dogs who are behind an invisible fence next door.

But now? They watered all the plants, pulled some dandelions, then came up with an awesome imaginary game involving making a mudpit for the pig statue in the garden and baking mud pies. No fighting, no destruction. They came in together when they were cold and with just a reminder from me, did NOT track mud through the house, but carefully stripped off their muddy clothes and put them in the washer (and Alex even added more dirty stuff and started the machine) got washed up, and are now hanging out with snacks on the couch together.

I know there is no age at which the parent child relationship stops having periods of being fraught, but the last year has been hard. I  dislike discipline of any sort  and yet have become takes-no-guff authoritative parent, which involves maintaining boundaries all. the. time. Sometimes it felt like I was trying to do the impossible, trying to tame ferocious little beasts- and of course I know there is an entire realm of parenting philosophy that disagrees with any sort of authoritative boundary setting, but that is not my bag! Sometimes I felt like they were like some sort of powerful duel force of erosion, wearing down my very soul. But today? When they seem to understand why I want there to be boundaries and rules, where they know they can discuss those rules and we can work together to create and enforce them, when we can finally start approaching our home and our world as a team? Today is a good day, and I think there may be more good days coming. 


Sarah said...

Hey Darcy,

As a teacher, allow me to thank you for being an "authoritative boundary setting" parent. Over the years I have really come to believe that kids need that. Boundaries make the world feel safe for kids.

And great progress on being responsible, kiddos!

So cute.

Hope you're well.


lindsay said...

lovely, lovely, lovely!