My three children and I had the wonderful pleasure of attending a friend's birthday party on Sunday. It was an amazing, fun event for everyone. The children were treated to a "Game Truck" parked outside the host's home. It was filled with age appropriate video games and activities that kept them busy in between rounds of home-made pizza, bottles of refreshing beverages, and a table of snacks set up in the garage. The "Game Truck" host was very patient and obviously loved his job. He played games with the kids and supervised their requests in an efficient and professional manner. The adults were able to enjoy each others company while the children played inside an air-conditioned "RV" with large, flat-screens, Wii gaming devices, and a plethora of game choices.
So what did my 4-Year-Old enjoy the most? Well, he did spend some time pretending to drive courtesy of a Mario brothers game. But his absolute favorite activity involved going in and out of the gaming truck. It required a lot of active muscle movement as he hopped up and down off the step outside of the truck. I allowed this to go on for a short period of time before I grew anxious. I was concerned that Sebastien's actions would annoy the Game Truck Operator (GTO), so I informed Sebie that he would need to either go in and play the games or stay outside with me.
The GTO heard my admonitions and commented that he'd seen many children do the same thing. There was a natural fascination with that darn door on the Game Truck RV. Here's the thing...He didn't seem concerned at all. Throughout the party, GTO guy maintained the same relaxed smile and level patience that he possessed at the beginning of his gig. I concluded that I was the only one worried about Sebastien's choice of activity and level of energy. I also decided that if "Game Truck Dude" had no problems with the in and out door situation, then I was the one with the issue. So, what the heck was my problem, anyway? I'm sure you won't be surprised by what I am about to share with you, so here's my honest assessment...
The "voices" of my parents echoed through the pre-programmed brain of my childhood. This is not necessarily a negative thing. However, an awareness of it's impact on your own parenting experience can be a valuable tool when properly applied. Here are the "door" issues from my past. (Some creative license has been employed in the interest of humor.)
Door Issues of Childhood Past: (a.k.a. The 7 Sins of the Open Door)
- Shut the door. You're letting in the flies.
- Shut the door. The AC is on and you're letting the cold air escape.(Summer Time)
- Shut the door. You'll let your brother/sister escape. (Year Round)
- Shut the door. The neighbors can see inside and your toys are everywhere.
- Shut the door. You're letting the cold air in and the heater is on.(Winter Time)
- Shut the door. You're letting the rain/snow/sleet/hail inside.
- Shut the door. The "door-to-door ministers of Jesus" are in the neighborhood and they're coming this way. (Just kidding on this one. My Dad actually enjoys engaging in conversations with individuals who subscribe to a wide range of religious philosophies. He is a true connoisseur of religion and is quite well read in this respect.)
What did I learn? Well, I can't say that I'm totally reformed yet. A slammed door still makes me jump. My children often like to shut their doors so the air cannot properly circulate throughout our home. And I still cringe when they play with their doors when a safety issue is involved. I am a work in progress, as we all are. However, I am grateful for moments like the one I encountered on Sunday. Observing how someone else can be more relaxed allows me to see the opportunites in letting go of the things that just don't matter. By the way...Sebastien had a blast. I hope he retains a good memory of his fun day.
Have a wonderful day. I would love to hear about your own childhood "voices" and how they have influenced your parenting. Just drop me a note in the comments section of my blog.