Monday, December 10, 2018

Julian: Parenting Expert, Age 9

So it's nothing new that we have perhaps an unusual relationship with Julian.  Or that the three of us have an interesting dynamic.  It's always been that we have to remind him he does not have an equal part in the decision-making in our home. But that reminder's for us as well.  I remember hanging with friends and one mentioned she tells her son "I'm not your friend, I'm your mom."  And I think to myself, nope.  Not for me.  If I were to edit that to fit our life I'd say something like, "I have to be your mom right now, Julian" (which I've never said) Or "BIG SISTER TIME!"  (usually followed by merciless torture tickles) or sometimes I put "best friend" on the end of everything I say to him.  And he gets it. I am the boss but also the fun one. We have games and jokes and try not to team up on Sean too much (it's just so fun though).

A few days ago he and I went on a bike ride. This is great because I've learned that exercise is good for kids.  I know, what? But he's sort of an inside kid and it's hard to think of ways to get him to move. Same goes for me, let's be honest.  It's also great because, as with many things, he's been a late-bloomer with the bike riding and as he improves, he's only lately understanding the feelings of joy and freedom riding one's bike brings.  So he's way more into it.  That means I have to force him less.  PLUS, we discovered a cute little wooden book exchange thing, or a "little free library" as it may be called, by the side of the trail. It's a good destination for readers who also may enjoy biking a little. We bring our junk books and take home other people's junk books.

This time, Julian selected Sideways Stories from Wayside School which, if you've read, you know is the trippiest book out there.  Like you know Louis Sachar is on some kind of drugs when he writes. I told Julian they always made me feel like I just woke up from a weird, slightly disturbing dream, which made him even more interested. 

The other book Julian chose was a parenting book called, Whining. 3 Steps to Stopping It Before the Tears and Tantrums Start.

haha! I was like, really? That's your choice? And it was.  He's been reading it off and on. At one point he called to me from the other room "Mom? What does d-i-s-c-i-[this is about where my brain can't retain anymore letters] p-l-i-n-e spell?"   I kept thinking it was "disciple" until Sean saved the day. He also asked what it meant and I continued to play the game I've been playing (with myself) since he began asking me what words mean, which is providing the best definition I possibly can, the first time, with as few words as possible. "It means to correct behavior in some way. Perhaps punishment, perhaps showing or giving consequences to an action. Usually negative behavior."    Eh, I don't always win.   But he asked me this and I thought nothing of it at the time but now I laugh, realizing he was reading this dang parenting book.  

He'll tell us about some case studies he's reading (which he finds most interesting, which I totally get. Love the case studies) and one example gave was about a father driving his daughter to the craft store for supplies for a school project.  On the way she wanted ice cream and he said no. She threw a huge screaming fit so he turned around the car and took her home.  We all gave our input on the study and he thought that was a bit extreme on the dad's end.  I asked him what he thought the dad should do instead and he said "Just ignore the tantrum the best he can,  drive to the craft store and get the supplies for her."  I said, "What if she keeps crying and throwing a fit? He can't bring her in the store. That's not ok."  And Julian said, "then he should leave her in the car."  We then talked about at what age it's appropriate to leave a child in the car unattended and had a debate about me doing that, which i never do.  a) I am not at all inclined to leave him in the car and b) if I am, he never wants to do it. He freaks himself out too much.  But then we questioned the study entirely when we discovered the daughter was TEN. We all agreed that was a little old to be throwing a tantrum and that perhaps these parents have more problems than how to curb a typical tantrum.   Anyway, it just kills me. Love having these kinds of conversations.

A little while later at dinner he asked us how we make our decisions as parents. Sean and I were first like, whut?  And then I said something like, "I don't know. We just think about what's best for you and the situation, gather all the information in the moment and make a call. Sometimes it's not the best thing but we try."  And then we all got distracted by something but seriously, what a question.

Then last night he was on my lap (what, he's 9, it's fine) and he said to me,

"There's something I read in my book that you do that it says not to you, but you do it."

But he refused to tell me what it was because he didn't want me to stop doing the thing. But I finally persuaded him to tell me.

He relented, "Ok, it said, 'don't give second chances at the site of the crime.'" 

And we talked about what that means (I should probably look it up in the book to get more information) and determined the kind of context this was given.  We talked about when that might be helpful or when it might not be. He gave me specific examples in our parent/child relationship and I thought about the moment, reflecting on my behavior and his and the circumstances.  It's just so funny to me.   Like, why shouldn't I let him in on the parenting aspect of parenting him?  It's like being a teacher.  He's the best when he's the one allowed to teach. "Because I say so" is never going to work with him.  I definitely lay down the law on a lot of things but this kid is too danged emotionally intelligent and aware of his surroundings to not be allowed to give his input from time to time. Plus I like feedback, just as I would ask a little brother or best friend.  And as he sat on my lap, wearing his cat pajama shorts,  I snapped some pics of him, tickled to death at this squirt.


Alanna said...

I don't have anything particularly interesting or insightful to say here, but I loved every bit of this post. What a great discussion to have with your kid! Maybe I need to make my 8-year-old read books like this...?

)en said...

Seriously, it’s something to think about. Maybe we can write a book— “parenting your kid, with your kid.” “Parenting book for kids!” “The kid’s guide to parenting.” I really think I’m onto something here. 😄