On Tuesday, I had a meeting with our pastor about some plans the Acteens have made for this summer. While I was there, he started talking about our move to Lubbock. He is of the opinion that we should get an economical car for Scott to commute back and forth to Lubbock, and he commented about how much the church is going to miss watching our kids grow up. He complimented me on the job we are doing raising them. I have a hard time accepting compliments, especially on my parenting, so I said something along the lines that we got lucky in that the kids are generally pretty good. He said that is because our parenting style is pretty laid back. We know what’s going on with our kids, but allow them to do their own thing so long as it’s not harmful to themselves or others. He said we’re doing it right.
I’ve never heard our parenting style described that way before, so it got me thinking. Since our conversation, I really started paying attention to what we do as parents that would be characterized as laid back.
As the kids were going to bed close to 9:30 for the third school night in a row, it occurred to me that there may be such a thing as being too laid back. So, the kids were in bed by 8:00 and asleep by 8:30 on Thursday. It’s amazing how smoothly Friday morning went as Emily was getting ready for school.
Another example that came to mind was the fact that we are home spending time together as a family most nights. Mostly this is because I have some students who come over for tutoring after school three days a week. We have dinner together every day. I don’t know how laid back that is, since it is something that I am pretty stubborn about wanting us to do. We don’t push our kids to sign up for every extra curricular activity that comes their way. In fact, we were pretty relieved this year when Emily never really pushed to do Upward cheerleading this year. She is in one activity besides church and school, and we think that is enough. She has dance class on Tuesday nights. That is the only evening she spends away from the family.
On Tuesday, this got a little complicated. I was tutoring, Emily was gone to ballet, Scott was picking his car up from the shop (or not as the case was that night), so the boys were watching a movie in our bedroom. Well, Zachary is going through the phase that we remember Timothy going through not long ago. He is fascinated by my makeup. Well, as one of my students was about to leave and another had just arrived Zachary came running out of our bedroom. It didn’t take long to discover what he had been doing. His entire face was covered with my foundation. I washed his face and went to survey the damage to the bedroom. It wasn’t pretty. Especially coupled with the fact that his diaper had runneth over. So, I got Zachary and Timothy out of our bedroom and closed the door. I changed Zachary’s clothes and returned to tutoring. Not long after, Scott got home and cleaned up the mess in our bedroom. What a guy! It’s no wonder we don’t want Emily gone much. She at least provides some supervision when we’re not right there.
Timothy is getting old enough now that he needs an out of the house activity. We are facing a decision right now about whether or not he will be playing t-ball this year. The season both here and in Lubbock overlaps with when we hope to move, but he really wants to play.
One thing we think we got right is Friday nights. Saturday is the only day that we do not have morning responsibilities, so we feel no need to force the kids to go to bed on Friday nights. Maybe it’s because we hope they will sleep in on Saturday morning (which they never do), but Friday nights are flexible. We usually don’t make any plans. It’s just a night to do whatever. Often this means the kids will watch a movie or two in Emily’s room or we’ll all just play together. When Zachary gets particularly fussy, we put him in bed and let Emily and Timothy keep doing what they were doing. Generally, they zonk out in Emily’s room during a movie.
Last night was a little different. I was grading papers for the online course I am teaching and Scott was doing something on his computer. The kids were watching Madagascar in Emily’s room. Well, about 10:30, Zachary came wandering into the living room and climbed up on the couch beside me. It wasn’t long before he was asleep. When I finished grading, I went to get a diaper and some pajamas for Zachary so I could put him in bed. On my way to the boys’ room, I peeked in on Emily’s room to see if Emily and Timothy had fallen asleep. The movie was still going, but Emily was sound asleep in her bed. Timothy was not in there. Emily was dressed fairly comfortably, so I pulled her covers up and turned off her TV before going to find Timothy.
First I checked our room. I thought maybe he’d gotten bored with the movie and decided to watch TV in our room. The TV was on the weather channel, but he wasn’t in there. I checked the bathrooms. Nope, he wasn’t there. Then I went into the boys’ room, and there he was. Sound asleep in his bed. Even on the days that he begs me to let him sleep in Emily’s room, he always ends up back in his bed at some point. It’s usually quite a production though, with him crying because he is uncomfortable on Emily’s floor or because the nightlight is too bright. I guess he just decided to skip all that and go to bed on his own. That’s our boy — choosing comfort over fun. He was still wearing jeans, so Scott put some pajama pants on him. I got Zachary’s diaper and pajama pants changed and put him bed.
It was the most unusual bedtime experience we’ve had. I fully expected to be woken up in the mddle of the night by Timothy screaming because he had soaked himself since we didn’t go through the nightly ritual of making him go to the bathroom before bed. When we finished the last package of pullups a few weeks ago, Timothy and I decided he was big enough to sleep in underwear. He’s been day trained since August, but it has taken a bit longer to get him to stay dry through the night. He’s had a couple wet nights in the last few weeks, which he informed me were my fault because I did not wake him to go to the bathroom before I went to bed, but he has consistently stayed dry for over a week now. I did get woken up around 2:30am to his screams, but it wasn’t because he was wet. It was because he wanted his sleep music to be playing. Now there’s a problem that I can deal with at 2:30 in the morning.
Scott and I never really put a lot of thought in our parenting style. We always figured we’d just hang on and enjoy the ride. And so far, it’s been the ride of our lives!