post-it notes speak louder than words…oh wait…

Very few days go by when I don’t have a finger-in-the-nose moment where I can only wonder what the social “norm” might be for acceptable behavior based on the situation and age of the child who has spawned the brilliant idea.

A truly horrifying scene: running the streets after a torrential downpour, barefoot.  Could be.  We walk our street multiple times per day though and have a very clear idea of what is commonly found next to the curb.  Calculated risk.

The other day, we found ourselves early to a store on a lazy Sunday morning.  Needing to pass 5 minutes, we tried to get out and splash in the puddles, but it was just too cold.  So, we climbed back in and drove around the back of the empty building, splashed through a couple puddles with the car, and then found ourselves back where we started in the parking lot.

With two antsy boys, we made the seemingly benign decision to ask if the youngest would like to try “driving” the car around the back of said empty building.  Now, when I say “driving” in this context, it’s more like “holding onto the steering wheel…mostly…while occasionally picking a nose or checking out a puddle while we creep along at 2 mph.”  So, we crawl around the back, park, and finally go in.

Upon arriving back at our car, we find we’ve been post-it-noted.  In true passive-aggressive style, we find our van stickied with hot pink notes screaming, “CAR SEATS ARE THE LAW IN TEXAS!!”, “YOU ARE ENDANGERING YOUR CHILD!!!” and “A CHILD SEAT FOR EACH CHILD!!”

Really?  I was genuinely surprised. There were 5 cars parked in the parking lot when we showed up.  Not exactly Black Friday.

Positions ready…this is the game called, “Let’s jump at each other and try not to crack our heads open.”  So far so good.  But it does make my tummy jumpy 😉

Well, thank goodness for those sticky notes.  They’ve certainly taught me a lesson.  Phew…and here, this whole time I’d been operating under the misguided notion that car seats were just some optional piece of gear, a ploy by childhood equipment manufacturers to garnish more of our cash in the great get-parents-to-buy-all-the-fancy-stuff-at-the-baby-store conspiracy.

No, not really, but it did make my heart beat faster.  I did feel angry, as though I’d been judged and convicted of endangering my child without even knowing what was going on or giving me an opportunity to defend myself.

Running the dry river bed.  We did find one patch of water, which later became the source of thousands of the tiniest frogs we’d ever seen.  If adventure were a math equation, risk and discovery would be variables for sure.

So here is the catch about parenting…this is not an isolated incident.

I’ve been reprimanded at a bus station for not harnessing my son into the 5-point harness available on the stroller.  I’ve been told countless horror stories of birth *while pregnant*.  I’ve been informed that carrying my children in wraps/slings will deform their hips (studies demonstrate that the open-straddle position helps hip development), that my husband and I should have our children taken away because we practice Elimination Communication….the list goes on an on…

The touted death traps formerly known as merry-go-rounds.  I prefer the latter.

It’s tough to please everyone else. This is true whether you’re a parent or not.  With kids, there are lots of opinions.  It gets tricky to tease out which ones are yours and which ones are the fabricated what-ifs.

Someone could have a field day with this.  Filthy chickens, barbed wire…giggle…balancing keeping kids in a padded room and avoiding death is such a big gap to feel out.

So, I keep trying…feeling out each social context the best I can in the attempt to keep peace…some of us are wired that way.  Momentary conformity does not threaten me, rather it’s a means to an end…a hope that maybe I’ll get to see the better side of others rather than their horrified, attacking selves.

Post-it note: “Your son could be seriously injured if that sign didn’t hold and he just came crashing down.”  (I did wiggle the sign as part of my rigorous sturdiness-test).

And in the mean time, I found myself today nervously eying the neighborhood.  Hoping that somebody didn’t come flying out her front door waving her cane and railing at me about what an irresponsible mother I am for letting my son climb a sign.

I realized a while ago that, for this boy, climbing isn’t a bad habit to be tamed, it’s a compulsion to be supervised.Looks like a Gabey for sale!

So the next time someone tells me that they use Benadryl to help their kids sleep at bedtime, I’m going to turn off my Unsolicited-Advice-Reflex and ask her if she’s been having a rough time with bedtimes…they can be a challenge.  Who knows, she might ask your advice 😉

Do the best you can, in the place you are…and above all, be kind.

There’s a rubric I can aspire to.


7 responses to “post-it notes speak louder than words…oh wait…

  1. I smile when I read your posts. You can draw the most profound observations from the seemingly mundane (splashing puddles). The artistry is fun.

    Most parents react to these episodes instinctively. I think if your mom let you do it, it’s likely OK. I know moms that won’t let there boys climb in trees. Coincidentally they also have somewhat ‘weird’ boys. Kids need to test limits. Moms need to test patience. And trust.

    With our Renee, we tried to always say “yes.” Unless of course we had to say “no.” Somebody had to be the adult and it’s only appropriate that it be the adult.

    While reading this posting I’m reminded of the Psych 1001 demonstration of measuring a child’s maturity. It was a glass floor that stretched beyond a 2 foot high step. The child would crawl on the glass as if on the floor, and right out over the step without any hesitation or concern for life or limb. The child recognizing the step and being afraid of falling was a right of passage.

    The same is true of busted glass in the gutter or climbing on flimsy signs. And horse-play around a camp fire. And of course, running with scissors! Horrors!

    The decisions get harder with age. Is it better to restrict access to guns (real bullet shooters) or teach respect and proper handling? How about booze? And of course, the biggest powder keg of all—GIRLS! Now there is a life changer–for the better or worse.

    Love your post Ginger!

  2. love your comments Ford! And oh, it is so going to get harder. It’s a good thing they grow up one year at a time….

  3. Wow. Post it notes for 2mph… I would’ve loved to seen the billboard someone would’ve attached to my truck when I used to let Cody drive my truck when he was 1 1/2 in an empty parking lot by our old townhouse… We crept at a speedy 8mph. Bad parenting i suppose.

    I also suppose it was bad parenting when I happened to find myself back at that same abandoned parking lot with Cody a month ago. We hadn’t been there in forever, but he remembered the times I let him drive in that parking lot 4 years previous. So, in true “dad” fashion, i let him drive again. Except this time, i let him know what speed was all about. I will admit that I lined the car straight at one end of the parking lot and when he said “GO!” I floored it. We ended up getting up to 35-40 mph before we started braking.

    The point is this… What is more important; what some stranger thinks or the memories that my son will never forget? (despite not having “long term memory” yet. Side note: I was floored that he remembered when I used to let him drive. He was walking and barely talking at the time)

    Rest assured you are doing a good job as a mother and that some stranger just has a travel soapbox to stand on.

  4. It seems that if you are pregnant, or a parent, you have a sign on your head that says, “Advice wanted…no matter how lame.” Sticky notes?? Really? They didn’t have the guts to come out and talk to you face to face? Oh, brother. It reminds me of when we had a little fire in our back yard, burning leaves in the fall, very controlled, very small fire, and the fire department showed up with threats of citations if it ever happened again. Hmmm — apparently there were neighbors peeking out of their windows wondering if the fire was going to spread and burn down their house. Oh, brother.

    I would venture a guess that most kids have had a chance to “drive” with mom or dad WAY before it was legal. Pink sticky notes, indeed!

    Yeah, I agree with Bryan. Positive memories are priceless. Keep up the good work, Bee!!

  5. I have two stories to share with you regarding this subject…

    When I was eight months pregnant with Garth (son #2), Nels (son #1) was all of 12 months old. He was literally just learning how to walk. One day in the grocery store parking lot, a woman reprimanded me for lifting him from the car seat into the shopping cart. “You shouldn’t be carrying him when you’re pregnant. You’ll pay for it someday!” I was dumbfounded. Short of pulling him around by his hair, I really didn’t see any alternatives. And she obviously wasn’t offering to help in any way.
    Around the same time (again, I was very pregnant and had a one-year-old), I was at the airport alone, and I had to go to the bathroom. As I waited in line (with a few ladies ahead of me and even more behind me), my mom’s voice was screaming in my head, “Don’t ever leave your child with anyone else, not even for a second.” (This coming from a woman who raised four kids in a small town where we could be gone for hours before she would start worrying about us.) When it came to my turn, the lady behind me offered to watch my son for the minute or so I would be in the stall. I hesitated, but then looked down at the stroller, the overstuffed diaper bag, and my now 8-month-pregnant belly, and I made the snap decision to let her watch him rather than take everything with me into the stall. I ran into the stall and power-peed as fast as I could. When I emerged, he was just fine, and the nice lady who had watched him went on her merry way. But the whole incident was a real lesson to me. There are times when you have to trust someone, and stop obsessing over all the negative things others would have you believe. The odds of me standing in line next to a complete psychopath who would run off with my son in front of a whole line of other women was so remote as to be impossible. (I read a book a few years ago that empowered me as a parent, called The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. He shows you how you can take control of your own safety, and what to teach your kids that will keep them safe.)

    We all have decisions to make regarding our own kids. My sons are so different that what worked for one didn’t necessarily work for the other. You know your kids better than any stranger could. And frankly, there will be times when you make wrong decisions. That’s part of what it means to be human. Learning from our mistakes is far more important than not making them. And hopefully it makes us better people.

  6. Love it 🙂

  7. Really cool post Gweeg! Awesome stuff…

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