Before I had Will, there were a few promises I made to myself about how I wanted to raise him. Now, stop rolling your eyes. These weren’t promises along the lines of ‘my kid is going to be the next Michael Jordan!’ I’m talking more along the lines of things I wanted to do to make sure he kept opportunities open for himself and became a functioning, giving and loving member of society.
So far so good for the most part. He’s open to trying new things (provided they don’t involve cheese or reptiles). He understands charity and is a regular donor to Kids Up Front and our local humane society. And I think if his heart was any bigger, it wouldn’t fit into his skinny little chest.
One thing I really wanted, and one that I thought would be key to our success in this whole ‘one parent to one kid’ relationship was choice. I didn’t want to be a dictator. I wanted him to feel empowered and that he was contributing to our family through the choices he was given. Let me be clear though, I still carry the Frank Underwood veto power in our household and I use it when I deem it appropriate. Case in point? I told him he could have a say in the colour of our new car. He picked orange. VETO.
And while he doesn’t have a say in things like bedtime or whether we wash his horribly smelling feet, I do include him in day to day choices like planning what we have for dinner for the week and who he would like to have babysit for him.
The past couple of weeks, he was faced with his biggest choice to date. Will was struggling in the fall at school and thankfully, he was able to move back to his kindergarten room for his before and after program. It boosted his confidence to be the eldest and allowed him a quieter environment to start and end his day with. But lately, he’s been missing his friends in the older room. His teachers and I talked about it and I told them that the decision had to be his. I could tell his anxiety over having to make the call was building so I put a deadline of last night on it.
We sat at dinner and made a pros and cons list of each room, which he loved. I was totally leaning one way but for once, shock of shocks, I kept my opinion to myself. At the end, we summarized the list and I said ‘so what do you think.’ And he said confidently, ‘I want to stay in Charlotte’s room.’ This morning I asked if he was still comfortable with his decision. He was. And even with keeping my big mouth shut, he picked the room that I was hoping he would.
I think we’ll be pulling out this pros and cons list business many times over the next while. I may use it myself because I forgot how clearly it can, for the most part, make these decisions. And while the kid won’t be driving around in orange wheels or going to bed at 10 pm anytime soon, I do want to keep expanding on the choices I give him. (All while subtly holding the veto card).
Did you make any parenting promises to yourself? Are you keeping them?