I look at the baby sometimes and wonder who she will become. They’re so unformed at this point. A blank slate, it seems—but even in those chubby baby cheeks and gummy smile and innocent eyes, there is a seed of who they are.
I can see it more in G. His personality is starting to come out more and more with his individuality. He is a handful, always going off on adventures, with or without my approval. He’s big into playing—things like chase and wrestling, which the other kids his age are not quite ready for. And he’s such a BOY already! Cars and trucks and tricycles, dinosaurs, monsters, animals. Football, baseball, pretty much any ball. And he loves water with a passion—getting soaked on his first time in the playground sprinklers, while the other kids in his playgroup hung back with their mommies, shy or afraid. They all stay by their mothers. Gabriel though is always off. Last playgroup, he actually began a little revolt in the good-baby group, and they all took off after him on his adventures. He was like some sort of toddler Pied Piper of Hamlin… which is funny, because his grandma’s last name comes from the town of Hamlin.
But with the Beanie baby, none of that is clear at all. Who is she? Is she going to be as serious as she seems now, or is it just gas that makes her frown like that? She’s already holding her head up very strongly, and standing on those bowed baby legs… does that mean she will be stubborn? Strong? Independent? Is raising a girl going to be THAT different from raising a boy? I mean, G turned into a boy-boy with no help from me. Is the Bean going to be a girlie girl? Or a tomboy? Or maybe she won’t be that easily defined. I do know that she already shows a preference for baseball on tv… something her Papa is very happy about.
Whoever she is, whoever G is, I want to help them become the best version of themselves. I don’t want to squash their independent spirits. I want them to be able to explore their world and experiment.
And yet… I want to help them understand the world and its boundaries. I don’t want them to get hurt, or to hurt anyone else. I want them to understand the value in other people, as well as the value in themselves. I don’t want them to be spoiled, or bullies. I want to help them be kind and helpful and loving and confident and creative. Strong and Happy. Strong and happy.
How much power do I have over who they will ultimately become? How much of that is really out of my control, and all up to them?
I don’t know. Parenting nowadays feels like a crap shoot. A lot of the old ways of doing things are not really acceptable now. A whuppin’ was common back then, now I would never do that. But I have to say, I don’t agree with the extreme permissiveness and coddling that I see sometimes today.
My philosophy, I suppose, developed when I was teaching High School, is that you give kids boundaries, and then within those boundaries, you let them have free will. I don’t want to strangle them with rules, but they need to know where the boundaries are… that’s what makes kids feel safe, those boundaries.
The question is where I set the boundaries and how I enforce them. There is no question about how consistent I have to be once I set those boundaries. Like for hitting—NO HITTING!
That’s the only one I’m 100% on right now. I guess I will figure out the other boundaries as I go along. I’m starting to work on one—something like, “no playing with water/other liquids inside the house unless it is in the bathtub, ie: no dumping mama’s coffee cup on the floor.”
But on the other hand… I also don’t want the world to be about “NO.” I don’t want to run around all day telling my kids what they can’t do. So I’ll have to pick which things to let go, which battles to fight.
Now that I think about it, it’s not only who the kids are that is unformed…it’s also who I am as a mother.