My kids have been taking really long, simultaneous naps for the past two days. And I have no projects I am working on… silly me.
So, I have been reading blogs and now I am feeling oh, oh, oh-verwelmed. I have been reading some really entertaining posts about questions kids ask. Ha, ha, ha… it is all so entertaining, because it is not my kids. But I do realize what project I am working on – the project of raising my kids. It is a really, really, really big project.
My children will turn two and three in April and May respectively. And there are discussion topics that are on the horizon in one form or another that I am hoping to get right. Here are a few of the things that I realize I am in no way prepared for but should be…
1) Stranger danger issues. I need to start addressing this with my children. And I probably need to deal with it earlier than some other parents because there are two of them, they are both runners and I simply can not always keep them both in sight. Plus, I have a fairly loose parenting style and spend lots of time walking that fine line between freedom/independence and where-the-hell-did-he-go? Actually, it isn’t a line that you walk, it is usually a line you sprint on while looking behind doors and under desks.
Today was a perfect example, instead of looking for books about teaching your toddlers to be safe, I was chasing Little Dude around the library. The big attractions for him are usually the handicapped exit which he knows how to operate and the drinking fountain. However, today it was the freight elevator. For the past few weeks he has enjoyed pushing the call button, but I have always gotten to him before the elevator doors opened. Today, I wasn’t so lucky, the doors opened immediately and he was in the elevator before I caught him. I finally got smart enough to push the button for another floor before we got off sending the elevator to a different floor which bought me some time when he next pushed the call button. And, what was my point? Oh, yeah, I need to be thinking about stranger danger sooner rather than later.
Just as I have trouble negotiating freedom versus safety I also have an additional dilemma with stranger danger. I insist that my children are “polite,” greeting and saying good-bye to adults as well as saying please and thank-you. In doing this I am already breaking down their natural tendency to keep a boundary between themselves and adults they do not know.
Moreover, what about all the situations where I prompt them to take things from strangers? Sure, get a sticker from the librarians following story-hour. Okay, I can justify this one because they have been “hanging-out” with the librarians with me there for 30 minutes. But what about the old man who runs the carousel at the mall? They haven’t really been interacting with him. He is a tad bit odd and now I say, “go get a stamp on your hand from him.”
Do you see the slippery slope? I don’t normally buy slippery slope arguments, but in this case, I do, and at the bottom of the slope is a bunch of creepy pervs.
2) Where do babies come from, body parts and other yucky topics. Right now we use such terms as private parts, girl parts, boy parts, bum-bum. We also use pen1s, which PJ always thinks is peanuts anyway. I can’t come up with a comfortable label for girl parts… I guess I need therapy in more areas than I was previously aware of.
PJ did argue with me the other day that b00bs were not private parts after I told her she should quit touching mine. And when I convinced her they were, she told me she liked the other private parts better – hmmmm. And that snippet of conversation is certainly a harbinger of things to come. My spunky daughter will probably argue with me about procreation.
Even before running into these issues on the internet over the past couple of days, I had already been thinking a lot about Stranger Danger and some about the Birds, Bees and Body Parts. And, of course, before we got this far in our transracial adoption, I thought lots about skin color and what sort of conversations will arise in that area.
But there is a difference in my mind between skin color and race issues. I am prepared to teach my kids that all people are equal no matter what they look like. But teaching my kids about race issues, history, etc… well, um, not so much. I guess I am naively prepared to parent a brown boy but am not yet ready to parent a black son.
3) Race issues. Yeah, I don’t even think that I have begun to imagine all the different ways this will surface. But once again, the blogosphere has me thinking. If you haven’t seen Coffeemom’s post about this, you really should check it out. The hardest part about this post for me was reading her say that she didn’t necessarily think they handled the situation that well. Because I thought she handled it beautifully and am sure I would not have handled it one-tenth as well. I have so much to learn.
I guess that is why for most people starting with a young (pre-verbal) child is helpful. You really do seem to build a body of knowledge as you go. You get glimpses into the future and if you are paying attention you can set a road-map for what you need to learn next. And hopefully you can get to that point before your child. At least this is what I am telling myself.
I can hear the kids and SAG wrapping up bath time. I need to finish this so I can get our bed time rituals started. Soon I will be spreading lotion, picking hair and putting on pajamas all the while hoping against hope that they do not ask me anything more challenging than, “Can I have another story, please?”