After their Christmas Program practice a year and a half ago, I picked up G and Little Missy as kids flowed past me to their own parents. In the midst of the semi-melee, one of the directors (also a friend of mine) said that during practice, when the rest of the group had descended into giggling chaos, my two kids stood quietly among the noise, ready to get further instructions from the adults.
Then at one of G’s first basketball practices this winter, Hubby watched the rest of G’s team horse around and wrestle like boys do, but our son stood quietly, ready to get further instructions from his coaches.
At school, neither G nor Little Missy have had to move their pin down ever, which means that they’ve never been reprimanded strongly enough to move their clothes pin from the “behaving” to the “misbehaving” side of the classroom chart.
This is not a column wherein I pat myself on the back for stellar parenting. This is a column wherein I tell you that Hubby and I have ongoing conversations about how maybe we’ve drilled The Fear into them too strongly. Because we want our kids to feel the freedom to act a little silly sometimes.
The Christmas Program incident a year and a half ago made me proud but also made me wonder for the first time if our kids were too scared to occasionally be silly. Then G’s basketball practice nearly confirmed it.
So I’ve been watching them, listening closely to their stories, trying to learn whether they’re still running wild on the playground with friends, whether they giggle at lunch, or whether they’re standing on the sidelines, watching all the fun.
I’ve joked to Hubby that we need the Gene Hackman character from “The Royal Tenenbaums” to come inject a little ornery into our kids: we need someone to run with them past the “No Running” sign onto their makeshift diving board and into the water; we need someone to sneak them onto the back of garbage trucks for a drive around the city. You know, ornery things that don’t hurt anyone.
And Hubby and I would click our tongues and shake our heads in response as we’d say, “Well, don’t do that again,” but we’d really be glad that there’s some good-natured spunk in our children.
Because Hubby and I want our kids to behave, to have the confidence to stand quietly among the rabble when it’s time, but we also want our kids to run and scream on the playground and horse around with their friends.
The balance, you guys, the balance is what we’re seeking for them. And if that isn’t hard to find.