05 January 2014

Parenting and Holidays

Early in October I took the kids to a pumpkin patch.  It was pretty awesome, and we all had a great time, until the two year old got lost.  He saw something that looked interesting, and took off running.  For the next twenty minutes I had no clue where he was.  I didn't completely panic, but when it took me more than three minutes to find him I did briefly recall every awful child abduction story I have ever heard.  And probably a few that I haven't actually heard, but imagined.  As I pressed through the crowds searching for my little redhead a few things occurred to me.  First, it was unwise to put him in an orange shirt.  He was dressed exactly the same as every other child within a five mile radius.  Second, I have not taught him what to do when he gets lost.

I found him at the exit of the straw maze.  He can't read, so the sign that said "for children 8 and over" didn't deter him.  He didn't even realize that he was lost, and I guess he's pretty good at mazes.  Still, I started to teach him some things about personal safety.  And all was well until Halloween.  Our church had a trunk-or-treat event in the parking lot.  I think this type of thing is perfect for the age of my kids.  They still get to dress up and beg for candy, but the whole ordeal is early, short, and safe.  We were going to be home in time for dinner.  I was super excited about it.  And then I heard myself essentially say to my kids, "See that strange man over there that you have never met before.  Yes, the one wearing a hat and a mask.  Walk right up to his open car and take that piece of candy he is dangling in front of you."  I felt more than a little hypocritical.

With the large number of holidays crammed into the subsequent months, my duplicitous parenting has repeated itself with regularity.

Thanksgiving wasn't too bad, but I certainly didn't reinforce any healthy eating habits.

At Christmas I told my kids about a stranger who spies on them throughout the year, and knows everything they have been doing.  I told them that he watches carefully for them to fall asleep and then sneaks into our house in the middle of the night.  And I told them to be very excited about it.

Until last week we lived in an apartment, and I spent much of my time trying to teach my kids to be courteous in close quarters.  We talked about using inside voices, and not shouting because the neighbors don't need to hear us.  Then on New Year's I again tossed all of my careful tutelage out the window and asked my kids to stay up late for the purpose of making as much noise as possible at an hour when most sane people are trying to sleep.

Last Independence day we went to a parade.  I asked my little boy to run into the street to pick a piece of candy up off the ground so that he could put it in his mouth.  Later that night I gave him a burning stick and told him to wave it around.

I think the term "holiday" can be correctly translated as "a break from responsible parenting."

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