Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Some Recent Parenting Issues

Since Kelly and I are on a break from podcasting until after ATLOSCon, I thought I share a couple of "Situations of the Week" kind of things.

As Sean is growing out of babyhood (weep), he is joining in the play and fray with the older kids more and more every day. He is learning a lot about self-control, respecting other people's stuff (and their bodies), and taking turns. These are difficult lessons for a two-year-old person, but he's coming along nicely.

A few days ago, he and Morgan were fighting over some toy. Morgan really wanted a turn and I think the thing may have belonged to her. She was complaining that he had it and did ask him for a turn in a nice way all on her own.

"NO!" says he, impishly.

She tried a couple more times but it was clear that he needed my help. I said something like "Sean, you need to tell Morgan how much longer you will be with your turn." 

He said, "How 'bout . . . one minute, Morgan?" She agreed.

I told him when the minute was up and he readily and cheerfully handed over the toy. That's a really hard thing for a young kid to do. (And no, he doesn't know how long a minute actually is, that word to him means "in a little bit" I think.)

Since that episode, I've noticed him doing this more often independently, too.  WIN!


I wrote about this a little on OGrownups, but Ryan and I had an awesome talk about sex the other night while we were grilling hot dogs! Over the years we've had many, MANY talks about sex and reproduction and menstruation and all manner of things. My policy is to answer their questions directly and honestly, and as necessary, with a straight face. Because we've already covered quite a bit of territory here, it's not ever going to be necessary for Brendan or me to sit down with them and have The Talk. There is no Talk waiting for them when they hit puberty because sex is just another one of those topics we discuss every once in a while, like minerals or dogs or the Allied landing at Normandy.

I have questiony kids--I rarely have to wonder what they might be wondering about, which has pros and cons. In this case, having questiony kids is definitely a pro. I can pretty much count on Ryan to bring up whatever questions he has about any topic.

A few years ago (was it that long ago already?), our sex discussion focused mainly on baby-making and logistics (how does that sperm get in there?). Sometimes our discussions spurred on imaginative art projects. But since that baby is getting older (weep) and time has passed, some of the details are hard to remember.

Ryan was telling me the other night that he didn't think he'd ever get married or have kids or have sex. It was a great opportunity to refresh him on some details and also to tell him about the fun of sex with someone you love. Somehow in all of the baby-making talk over the last few years, I'd left out the best part! It's interesting, because as he is getting older, the nature of his questions and the information he wants has changed, and he is interested in and ready for learning about some of the relationship aspects of sex rather than just the mechanics of it. Good conversation.

Oh, and one more thing about this topic before I move on--one of the main reasons my husband and I are very open about this particular subject is that we want to be the ones to teach them about this. If we get all squeamish now, I think it could send a message to them that we don't want to send--that sex is dirty or shameful, and also that "sex is something you shouldn't talk about with your parents." Sex is super awesome and great (and you need to be responsible about it, too). I want them to come to us with their questions first, and I know that it's relatively easier to answer questions about what goes where than it will be to have a discussion with them about whether or not they should have sex with a boyfriend/girlfriend. These little talks are good for all of us in both the short-term and hopefully the long-term, too.


Semi-related to the topic of impending puberty--I had an interesting moment with Morgan the other day. She was very sad and crying about something. She has always been a "hider" when she's sad, even when she was very tiny. She runs off to a corner and crumples into a Ball of Sad until she feels better. On this particular day, she was, somewhat unusually, letting me hold her while she cried.

She told me that she didn't want to go back outside to play until she was all finished crying. I asked her why and she shrieked "Because my face looks HORRIBLE when I'm crying!" And cried even more. Since when do people care about how they look when they are crying? Since about six years of age, apparently.


Yesterday afternoon was WONDERFUL because Sean is finally getting to the point where I can let him go outside with the Big Kids with minimal supervision from me. We have a fenced backyard (not that the fence doors are often closed, but still, there's an easy boundary to see) and all three kids played out there for hours. They built a city called Sparta. Here's a picture:

I love that he is learning to be a little independent and free-range. I'm still a little nervous about letting him out in the front without me, especially after about 5pm when people are coming home from work (some people drive WAY too fast down our little cul-de-sac for my taste). I will let him go out in the front with the older kids, but I keep the front door open and check them often.

In fact, as he was heading out to the front yesterday with Ryan, I walked out on the porch and Sean said: "Yes, I go outside. Now you ask 'Do you go in the street?' and I say 'No.' and then you ask 'Will you stay with Ryan?' and I say 'Yes.' " 

Hey, nice to know he's been paying attention. :)


Benpercent said...

"Yes, I go outside. Now you ask 'Do you go in the street?' and I say 'No.' and then you ask 'Will you stay with Ryan?' and I say 'Yes.' "

I can imagine Sean saying this while wearing a mustache and smoker's jacket.

Jenn Casey said...

Now I'm imagining Sean as Christopher Walken's SNL character from the sketch "The Continental." :D