I’m quite sure somewhere along the way someone has told you that being a parent isn’t easy, and well I’m here to confirm it. There is a lot of pressure to get it right. To not screw up your children. To make good people. There is this implication that this is a natural or even simple task, somehow innate to all people who have kids. All you have to do is look around you to know this is far from the case though. Not to be overly judgemental here, but I’d say there are many people out there failing their kids miserably. It’s easy to tell too, who these people are by the lack of boundaries and respect their kids show others. Now before you get on my case here, I know kids will be kids and some kids have self control issues linked more to their medical conditions than their parents’ track record. However, there are kids who just don’t care about being polite, caring or even compliant, because no has taught them that they need to be.
This all comes up for me because I had a sleepover party for my kids this weekend. We had six kids come to our house for about 20 hours. You can observe a lot in 20 hours! Having 9 kids running around the house did not make for a quiet or clean weekend, let me tell you, but it did make for some happy kids. Some not so much. The way people behave when they come to your home is dependent on a lot of things, for instance your relationship with them, their cultural customs, their upbringing and your house rules. I made sure to set out the rules for my kids before anyone came over. In fact I harped on them for several days before to ensure they were listening. Simple requests to keep everyone safe and all things intact. I told my kids that they needed to be the first line people to ensure that their friends followed the rules. I would be their backup, but that they needed to take responsibility for their guests as a good host should. It was also understood that they would be in charge of running the activities for their themed event, with me as a helper not the ring master. I have to say I am very proud of my kids for doing just that. They did everything they could to keep their guests in line. Did it work entirely – no, but the important thing was for them to learn how that kind of responsibility felt and give them the knowledge that they have power over their environment and situation. Now of course there was a personality that was not easily reigned in by rules and in the face of my tiny and endearingly kind daughter this was no fair match. This is where being a parent becomes difficult. There’s a fine line between going all “mamma bear” defending my lair and “sure you can walk all over us in this household” mentality. There is this middle ground of fair mom, but in control. I went for this one. Not easy! There were definitely a few “I need to take some deep breathes” moments, and some “gee I’d like to take this a step further by sending you home” moments, but I tried to remember my goal of cool, go to mom and backed down a notch. My greatest challenge though was not keeping control over the situation, but allowing my kids to take the lead in controlling it. To back off and allow them the freedom of expressing their own judgement and desires, was harder than I thought.
Being a person is hard. You have to manage your health, your emotions, your place in society (whether that’s employment or status), and your relationships. It’s a full time job to be a person! Being a parent means that you have to do all this AND teach another human being how to do all this AND manage letting them try out and discover doing all this. It’s a wonder any of us succeed! Finding that balance where you give your kids the freedom to make their own friends and decisions feels like your walking on the rim of a volcano that might explode at any time. You just don’t ever know for sure how it will work out. So I guess I learned as much as my kids did this weekend about how important it is to keep working on social boundaries and personalities. And I am proud of my kids! They never cease to show me how absolutely wonderful they are!!
Oh and I also learned that from now on, we have one or two people over at a time. Way quieter that way!!