Sometimes I feel sorry for kids whose parents are too grown up. I saw a clip on America's Funniest Home Videos the other night where a little girl had drawn all over her own face with bright colored markers. Her mother was video taping without amusement in her voice asking her why she did it. The child blamed a big brother that didn't exist. When asked what her daddy would say, she said, "I want to go wash my face now." I thought the whole thing was absolutely hilarious. I don't understand the seriousness of the issue. I learned a long time ago to pick my battles. I may laugh and then say, "Go wash your face now" but nonetheless, I would laugh, and teach my children to laugh at themselves in the process.
A couple of weekends ago, our neighbor's 3 year old had wandered over in 30 degree, rainy weather to run around on our porch. She proceeded to follow my son inside and was here for about 10 minutes when I noticed she was here. I asked my daughter to take her home as her parents were probably looking for her. We discovered that her parents weren't home, but had left her with her 5 and 7 year old sisters who were sleeping at the time. Knowing the dad often works at a neighbor's shop, we sent our son down the street on his bike to look for him. When the dad was found, he went storming into the house to spank the child. Being that it is a safety issue, and she needs to know she can't just wander out of the house whenever she wants, I understood his desire to impact the seriousness of the situation - and yet, I wondered who spanks the daddy for leaving small children alone like that!
When my son was about 4 years old, he was playing outdoors with a friend. They had gone around the corner of the house - and after giving them a minute or two to return I went to look for them. What I witnessed was two small white bottoms of children who were relieving themselves along the side of the house. I explained, smiling that if they needed to use the bathroom, they should go INSIDE the house. (even though I've seen any number of grown men doing just the same thing!) Later as I was telling the story to the other mother, I could see her eyes go from a twinkling expectation as I told her I had something funny to relay that the children had done, to a stern, distracted (looking over my shoulder for her child) expression. I hardly got to the end of my story before she had taken off after this child to exact her discipline.
Over the years, I have seen children almost wet their pants with fear for getting their clothes dirty, or breaking something. What adult among us hasn't worn home mustard on their shirt from the hot dog stand, or spilled a drink over dinner? I think that sometimes we behave in this angry, disciplinarian manner because it is how we were treated and we think it is the way a "grown up" should be. If that's how it is, count me in with Wendy and Peter Pan and even Jeffrey the Toys R Us giraffe who all said, "I don't want to grow up!" And Wendy who appropriately added, "I want to stay in the nursery!"