Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cut it out! Knock it off! Stop it!

" Cut it out! Knock it off! Stop it!"
My husband half chuckles. He "knows" he should be telling him to stop, but he's so cute he laughs. Bodee is near naked, besides his Spiderman underwear at the breakfast table, and he is standing on the chair doing a spontaneous dance.....then he turns and points his butt at us and waggles it with glee.
Todd's command is ineffective and it is not until he almost tips the chair over that Bodee stops himself, sits down and eats his eggs.

What comes to mind is the perfectly behaved Chinese kids I often see at the huge round tables at restaurants, silently and politely having dim sum with their families. Meanwhile, my kids are laughing, tickling each other under the table,and dangling their noodles in front of their faces before slurping them up with relish. The little voice in my head says...I am half Chinese...what happened with my kids?

"That's what's wrong with America," some may say...."Parent's are not disciplining their children. They let them run wild and act all crazy at the dinner tables, let 'em get away with anything and then before you know it they are getting locked up."

Yeah, yeah, judge as you will. Tonight we are laughing at the dinner table. We enjoy our children's songs and creative play with their food as long as they are eating. We all hold hands and look each other in the eyes as one of the boys leads our prayer, and then we say in unison " God is great, God is good, and we Thank you for our food, AMEN-ies!" Sometime the baby claps after we pray.

It's a moment of unity, gratitude and grounding.
I don't care if Bodee is not dressed tonight. I don't care if he is dancing once in a while. The family meals are a time to connect, and let's face it, a 5 year old communication skills consist predominately of imaginative play. They are still working out what a conversation is. Mostly his play with friends comprises sounds of battle ships shooting,light sabers swooshing and high pitched cartoon characters saying " Oh Noooo! he's gonna get me"...and then a deep voice booms "I'll save you!"
So for him to tell a story, do a dance, eat his french fries like airplanes and waggle his butt now and then ...well, it's an example to me of freedom and fun as a family.

The real kicker is in not comparing my kids to other kids. I find that it's automatic...and if I am not careful I can make it mean kid dances half naked at the table at home, and out, their kids are quiet, our kids are hiding under the table cloth, shrieking, and I think one just ate a fried noodle off the floor....I could make that mean that I am a lenient, lazy Mom and they are hoodlums. I could. And I would have some pretty good evidence according to some.

Or I could chose a more empowering context, an empowering perspective, if you will. I could choose to see that we are living life, our kids are free to dance, to waggle, to giggle. They are fully self expressed and create laughter, love and fun.

Manners are good too, and for the really important times and places we empower them with those tools...but getting caught up in what they are doing means something about us as a no win situation.
They are kids.We are parents. For the most part, if they are having fun, so are we.
And if we are having fun, so can they.

Zen Honeycutt

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