Friday, June 4, 2010

Field Day Inspired Thoughts

Baker's best friend didn't attend field day. He got in trouble at school two days in a row for hitting, so his mom said he couldn't go. She is my new parenting hero! Hurray for personal responsibility. I see so many parents who let their child's bad behavior slide or, worse yet, reinforce it. I've seen parents giggle and say, "how cute" when their young child does something wrong, like throwing food. I've seen parents make excuses for their older child's inappropriate behavior. I often wonder what they think they are accomplishing by doing this. Maybe they are saving their child some short-term stress and it is easier for them at the moment, but, long-term, they are setting their kids up to be spoiled, obnoxious adults who think the world owes them something. So, my friend K is my hero. She is teaching her son that there are consequences and some behaviors just aren't acceptable.

Field day made me think about balance. I like to give my kids some freedom. Emery was walking towards the playground and I let him go. I knew where he was headed, I was watching him, and I planned on joining him in a few minutes. I don't need my child next to me every second. Another adult saw him walking, looked around, and glared at me for letting him go on his own. Maybe he didn't realize my intention, and I can understand that. Once I joined Emery and put him on the swing, a little boy asked me if he could swing. I asked where his mom was. He pointed and she was busy supervising one of the field day games. This little boy was on the playground for a good half hour without anyone watching or checking on him. I've seen that often too at other playgrounds. And so, you have to strike a balance between giving your kids some freedom (and yourself some breathing room) and temporarily "abandoning" your child to the playground. It is difficult. I've gotten distracted talking to a friend and lost track for a second of my child's whereabouts. But, it is infrequent and, overall, I do think I manage that balance of giving them room to explore and be independent without letting them get too far away.

My last thought is this. I was so excited to see the kids, in this day and age of political correctness and litigation, play "tug of war." They had such a good time and although it was called war, the school did a great job of promoting good sportsmanship.

3 comments:

  1. We too encourage our kids to be independent and roam freely. My eldest is the only 4th grader on the block that is allowed to walk up the street to the store - something I was doing at her age and earlier. My daughters often get praise for being adaptable and confident in foreign situations, travel helped that a lot too.

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  2. Jenn-
    I do thank you for your support and respect in how I handled this situation. Balance is an interesting topic as it was definately MY main struggle in this ordeal. My balance dilemma is how do we raise children to stand up for themselves and defend their actions while respecting authority and adhering to rules and regulations. The Mama Bear in me wants to march into the school and defend 1. the first incident, which when talking to the perp (my son) and the victim (his best buddy) that the 'hit' was an attempt to get someone's attention, and with a demonstration from both involved, amounted to little more than swatting a fly off someone's shoulder and 2. the second incident (after talking to my son, his teacher, and the recess monitors) pushed a peer out of his personal space when the peer was doing karate moves at him. I want to shout "come on, REALLY? It's come to this?" However, the school does have a zero-tolerance to any 'hands-on' incidents, a policy my son should be familiar with since the beginning of the school year. The second event happened the very next day after the first, after spending the afternoon in his room, losing screen time for a week, having to sit through a long (and given the circumstances) ridiculous conversation about the school's policy. Rules are Rules and responsibilities require everyone to adhere to them blah, blah, blah.
    Is there a line that can be blurred there? Should there be? Should a 5/6 year old know that there is? Maybe it is my catholic school upbringing, but I think, as the consequence of losing feild day proves, that at this age they need to learn that yes, there are rules and they must be followed or a consequence will ensue. But when and how do we undo that so that they responsibly question authority, defend themselves and their actions. I see so many sassy kids calling their parents names fighting back when a consequence is given, and yes my son will cop an attitude at times but has never been outright sassy to his parents and despite its severity he took his consequence without tears or quarreling. I hope he learns to respect authority and eventually learn when to question it. That balance worries me.
    I would appreciate anyone's comments/suggestions...

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  3. I always let my kids take risks and did not hover. I was there to kiss the boo boo and talk about what happened and listened when they told me what they thought (learned). It is easier to protect than to let life's lessons be learned. Ultimately, who are we protecting;them or us?

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