By dontexplode, flicker
I’ve noticed this: many of us are uncomfortable with our kiddos “going wild.” For some time I’ve been noticing myself. Noticing how I get “uncomfortable” when the energy gets a bit high and I start getting on the kiddos to “bring it down.” Sure, it’s appropriate to help our kiddos learn how to self-regulate – how to go from sad or mad to “Okay” again, and from way hyper and over-stimulated to calm. But I’ve noticed how I tend to jump in too quickly to “bring it down.”
Why is that? Why are some of us uncomfortable with our kiddos “going wild”? What is it in our culture, our times?
I have distinct memories of me and friends “going wild” – jumping on a couch, hanging off a tree, playing any kind of running and jumping and wrestling game you could come up with. And the parents (aunts, uncles, neighbors, my parents) let us go wild. By doing so, I got out anything that was pent up and then naturally, organically, brought myself back into calm. I learned how to self-regulate.
Ok, sure, parents stepped in at times to “help” us do that. But I don’t think they parented in a culture that was really uncomfortable with “wild.” I mostly remember being given the freedom within limits to just “bust loose.” I don’t have any memory of my parents hovering over me, telling me to “be careful” or “bring the energy down.” I don’t remember feeling “squelched” or “contained.” Maybe that’s why I didn’t freak out when I got to college. I didn’t need to “bust loose” and go to an extreme.
I guess it’s “welcome to helicopter parenting” today! Many of you have heard me say this: I am taking micro step to micro-manage my kids less. I’m being mindful of that uncomfortable feeling rising up in me and just noticing: “Is this about me or my kiddos?”
I check in: “are they having fun? Are they hurting anyone? Is the energy still positive?”
And if the answer is: “everyone is ok and having fun,” I’m dealing with MY own stuff…and breathing. A lot of breathing and letting go.
What are we so worried about? How we look/appear to others? If our kids will be these untamed, wild animals who have no chance to do well in kindergarten, let alone focus enough to get into Harvard?
My son’s pre-k teacher tells me how A sits for circle time, he can focus, he’s starting to read and can concentrate for long periods of time, and he is kind to his classmates. Lisa, don’t worry!
Maybe it’s because we parents need to “go a bit wild.” No – a lot wild! Maybe we need to jump and dance around – at home, at church, and with our friends. Shoot, even with our spouses! Maybe we are scared of the “wild parts” within us.
I’m noticing that as I go a bit wild, I ease up on and allow my kiddos to go wild. Let A. climb the fence. Let little C. jump on A. and wrestle like little tiger cubs. Let them chase each other with pillows. I’ve noticed that when I do this, yes, there are times I do need to step in. But often they end up coming down on their own.
Case in point: the other day we were driving home from somewhere. A. and C. started singing. Soon enough, they were belting songs – each a different one because C. can’t talk yet – at the top of their lungs. I noticed the discomfort within me. I wanted to say, “Hey guys, bring it down. Let’s chill out now.” But I looked back and I saw their faces just beaming. They were estatic. Not over-stimulated or too hyper. Just having a fabulous time.
I let it be. I thought, “Here’s my break! There’s no fighting, no hungry kiddos asking for snacks, no tears.” I put down my window to feel the cool breeze. A few minutes later, it was calm…and quiet. “Mommy,” I hear from the backseat, “Look.” I look back and A. and C. are holding hands. All on their own.
So let’s let our kiddos go a bit wild without hovering over them. Let’s go wild ourselves!
more wrestling, beginning to settle