Sunday, January 22, 2012

When Kids Pick Their Own...

One thing I have learned about myself over the past few months is that I tend to do too much for my kids. They are very smart and capable, but I am very type A and often things are just easier for me to do myself.  Big Girl's kindergarten teacher told me at fall parent teacher conferences that I should encourage her independence and let her make choices, when appropriate, to develop her self esteem.

So I asked a few friends what kinds of things their 5 year olds did on their own and discovered that I hardly let/make Big Girl do ANYTHING on her own! Of course, a week or so before the PT conference, I brought in Big Girl's laundry basket with the clothes folded and sorted and asked her to put them away. You would not believe the battle of wits that ensued about that small amount of responsibility!

I have held strong and Big Girl is in charge of putting away her laundry. And both she and Little Man help dump out garbage cans on "garbage day" (this is right up Little Man's alley since he wants to be a "garbage truck man" when he grows up). I try to let her help me with dinner, and there are regular battles about who gets to help in what way with setting the table.

The easiest area for me to give up control and let the kids make choices is with their clothes and hair.  Big Girl has always had a very unique style. And I don't take their outfits seriously - I know some moms probably think that their kids clothing is a reflection on their parenting, but I don't feel that way. I love that they express themselves with their clothes.

Yesterday I learned that my acceptance of this quirky self expression has limits. There are SOME limits already -- Little Man knows that when he picks clothes for church he is supposed to pick "a shirt with buttons". Big Girl knows that we prefer she pick clothes out of her closet for church.

Friday was my great-aunt's 90th birthday.  She is very wealthy and very put together.  Her nails are always done, she always "dresses to go out", etc.  And, unlike me, she gets concerned if I bring the kids over for lunch at her retirement center and they aren't looking 'their best'.  So, last night we had dinner reservations with my mom and great aunt to celebrate her birthday. We asked the kids to get dressed to see Noni, which they know means they should look "fancy", while Eric and I got dressed.

So first Big Girl comes in with clips across the front of her bangs. And she wanted a half ponytail with curly hair tendrils hanging free. I helped do her hair the way she asked, but basically her hair looked like a giant bird's nest with multicolor clips all across the front of her hair.  I suggested we just brush her hair out because that is the way Noni likes it best, and she was in tears.

As I started to follow her to her room, out comes Little Man from his bedroom. He dutifully put on a shirt with buttons and "school pants", but also one of Big Girl's 2 inch wide turquoise blue cloth headbands. (Yes, we will let him wear funny headbands and even nail polish on his toes.)  I ended up getting sidetracked trying to convince him to take off the headband for Noni. (He did eventually remove it in favor of a trucker style Cars 2 hat, which he wore but removed at dinner.)

In the meantime, poor Eric handled Big Girl and the hair drama. I headed downstairs thinking we might actually be on time to pick Noni up for dinner. And then, down came Little Man. Wearing lipstick. Over pretty much every part of his face below his nose. "I put on Big Girl's chapstick!" he said proudly.

It was basically this look, only he was wearing a shirt with buttons. 

Thank you to whoever gave Big Girl tinted chapstick for Christmas. Oh wait, that was me!!

I got a death glare from Little Man as I frantically tried to scrub the lipstick/tinted chapstick off of his face, lovingly explaining why having lipstick all over his face was not a good idea when we were going to take Noni to her birthday dinner.

And finally, everyone was put together, we made it to the car and actually picked Noni up within 5 minutes of the time we were supposed to be there. Ahh... success!

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