That’s right. Fend for yourself, little monster!
Okay, that’s not true.
I help Zephy alot. Every day I help him countless times with all sorts of simple tasks. But I am careful about how and when I help him.
When he needs help with his shoes, I won’t intervene until he’s tried it himself.
When he struggles with putting a shirt on, I don’t help him if its a shirt he’s put on before. I may have him sit and breathe when he gets frustrated, but its his job to put the shirt on.
As I write this, he’s working on fixing a Lego spaceship that had a rough landing. He spent a few minutes asking me for help, I let him know that I was busy but could look at in in a bit, and now he is sitting, inventing a story, and trying to fix it himself.
When he does need help – and ultimately, he will, I want to be sure that I am not taking over the task. I want him to participate and learn how to overcome the obstacle. My goal as a parent revolves around guiding him and teaching skills beyond getting the task at hand done.
Dealing with frustration, problem solving, critical thinking, even knowing when to ask for help, are all things that I try to teach on a daily basis. Probably so much so that Zephy is at the point of extreme frustration with me often.
Having everything be a teachable moment sounds spectacular, and sounds like I really have my head in the game on this whole parenting thing. I should totally write a book full of wisdom for parents everywhere.
Okay. I tried to write all that above with a straight face. Lets try that again.
We’re late for an event and Zephy has his boots on his hands. And he’s wearing shorts. In winter. With underwear over a pull-up. And his face is smeared with a cocktail of yogurt, oatmeal, and wood chips. I don’t feed my son wood chips, folks. If I had a rational explanation, I would give it.
He just threw a Lego spaceship into the couch. Pieces everywhere. It was an excellent re-creation of a scene in his mind, I’m sure, but now its a catastrophe. One where my intervention isn’t optional.
And in moments like this, I wonder what happened. Five minutes ago we were having a bonding teachable moment over how to zip up a coat. And now we’re about to create a microcosm of the apocalypse in our house.
The bottom line, for me, is that parenting has become less about ideals and overreaching goals, and more about daily activity. Zephy knows the boundaries, and he knows what I want to teach him. But it’s my job to live and show the temperance and self-control I desperately want to instill him with. Words and lectures only go so far. I could talk till I’m blue in the face, but he learns from mimicry and observation more.
So, with a resigned sigh, I’m off to dig up pieces of Lego from the many cushions of our couch. The lesson? To show Zephy that this isn’t in any way a problem. Toys break. Lego’s can be rebuilt. Imagination can still fuel us, even in pick up.
Did I say I was picking Lego’s out of a couch? I meant that I was helping the survivors of a spaceship crash on Planet MX713 recover and salvage the pieces of their craft. There we go.
Space Commander Daddy Levi,