How to Help Your Child Soar to New Heights

I guess it’d been awhile since I’d been to the store. My kids were by no means starving. But it was clear by the “feast” they’d prepared for themselves, that they were happy to see the fridge and pantry stocked once again.

Apparently, one doesn’t simply need a snack. One wants a bowl of cereal, a Gogurt, and a bag of Cheez-its. That almost qualifies for a meal.

I don’t claim to have supervision totality. I don’t know how any parent does. You might be able to go one day without showering (I can’t) or schedule your bathroom visits around their sleep patterns (I can’t), but that’s not sustainable. And around here, where mine rise unpredictably, stretch bedtime out for hours, and retired from napping at the early age of two, it’s not even possible.

My littles came with an Adult Supervision Required label slapped on them. While I took that seriously when I had only one and could pull the bouncy seat into the bathroom or attach them to me with a twenty-foot-long piece of cloth, once you’re outnumbered or they advance in age, there’s just.no.way.

There are moments (and, at times, long ones) when mine must be left to their own devices. Devices which involve, well, devices, but also pulling chairs to reach high cabinets, performing experiments involving anything plus water, engaging in interpersonal conflict, destroying any evidence of a picked-up house, and maintaining a diet of junk, candy, and more junk.

I’ll be the first to tell the story at dinner parties of how one of my children, who shall remain nameless, snuck a whole bag of “smarshmallows” and devoured it while the electronic babysitter was on duty. I might even add the story of how my three kids were in cahoots on hiding a giant bag of Smarties where they could eat it for breakfast on mornings they awoke before me. It’s not my first rodeo, but I’m hardly grabbing the bull by the horns.

Now, you can — and should — preempt certain disasters by doing things such as locking up your medicines, childproofing your home, putting a password on your smart phone’s in-app purchases — things you don’t want to learn the hard way. I’m an advocate for all such foresight.

But you can’t be everywhere and you can’t see everything.

And when you aren’t, life happens. Kids climb to new heights, they blaze new paths, and they discover new skills. Look at you — here you thought you were mom-failing and you were setting them up for the rest of their lives.

Now go ahead and go back to picking up candy wrappers from your kids’ “breakfast” and make that dentist appointment your child suddenly needs. But, while you think your friends are laughing at you (they’re not) for what your children do behind your back, you can rest assured you’re just raising the poster-kids for those motivational posters. You can also laugh back at your friends, because, chances are, they haven’t showered or peed in about eight years.

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