So there’s this kid in the sandbox with my kids right now. He’s chucking sand all over the place. His mother has come by to yell at him several times, but he keeps on. I don’t really care. My kids have voices to tell the kid to stop if they don’t like it and feet to walk away if he won’t stop. Here’s what I’m wondering; why do we tell them to stop?
There is always a parent telling a child “don’t throw sand!”, “don’t splash in the pool!”, “don’t climb up the slide!!”. Why? Why can’t they do those things? There are opportunities to teach respect here. If someone wants to come down the slide, make way for them. Wearing new tennies? Take them off before you stomp in the mud for heavens sake! Don’t throw sand at other people-especially if they ask you not to. It’s the unthought-out “don’t…” that gets me.
Do we even have a reason? It seems like some momma somewhere in 1972 uttered these statements and we’ve all latched on to them. How many of us actually care if our kids run up the slide? Who decided that slides were only for going down? Maybe they’re actually ramps for going up? Why do the parents get to say? Didn’t we all do these same things as kids?
Or at least, didn’t we want to?
I think I might go tell that kids mom that it’s okay. If my people take issue, they know how to handle it. Let’s just let the kids be already.
I wonder how many unnecessary boundaries we’re building for these kids. I wonder how all of our “no’s” and “don’t do that’s” negatively affect these kids. By telling them no all of the time are we teaching them that they can’t do things? Or that they can’t do things by themselves? By limiting a slides purpose are we narrowing their creative minds? I catch myself a lot. I use “does that feel safe to you?” now, instead of a frantically shouted, “don’t climb so high!!”
We were walking together the other evening and my husband told our kids to stay out of the muddy puddles. I giggled to myself because I’d been thinking so much about the “NO!”. I could understand that he didn’t want them to get muddy because we’re living in our camper and it’s new and he doesn’t want it to be destroyed. To be fair, these are realistic concerns, my littles and I wreck stuff, we just do. It’s in our nature it would seem. Through our experiences and our play and our learning; things just break. His concern over muddy feet is justified.
I mentioned that we have a hose and can rinse the people before we let them in. While he may have still felt that they should stay out of the mud, he did relax about it and was playing along with them.
At the lake with friends recently, someone threw a handful of soppy-wet sand at my teeny. She didn’t like it at all. I almost told the kid to stop throwing sand, but I caught myself. Instead I asked if she was okay and helped her tell the boy that she didn’t want sand thrown at her. Then the two of them sat and tossed handfuls of sand into the water for several minutes laughing happily together. She might have missed out on the fun if I had simply yelled at the boy.
I am working on giving these kids more independence, more freedom. It’s one of my biggest learning goals for them this Summer. I want them to trust that they can do stuff-hard stuff. Biking without training wheels, talking with the lady at the counter to check out the paddle-boats without mom, telling that kid that you were next…by doing these things that end in fun I can see that they are learning to trust their abilities. They are learning that they really are able.
With luck, and some effort, these people will go into their Autumn activities a bit more confident. They will trust that they can do some of the more difficult math problems, spell longer words, read thicker books! Because they take these months to practice out there in real life-without me constantly telling them “NO!!”-I think they’ll have bigger successes.
I ended up not talking to that mom, she walked away though. She went over to make some lunch and our kids played together for half of an hour or more. No one got sand in their eyes, no one cried. After a little while they took their bodies over to the monkey bars and worked together to get across. It was hard, they had to use team-work, and be patient. It was fun and they were learning, and we didn’t even break anything!
If you enjoy reading my rambling thoughts and would like to receive them in your inbox, just let me know by filling out the form below. Thanks so much!