By Laura Simon
You know what would be nice? If my children woke up every morning with warning labels attached.
See, I can parent pretty effectively in the areas that I can anticipate being an issue. I know to teach my children not to run in the road. I know I have to show them how to get my attention without interrupting. I know we need to practice being nice to little sister.
But every day my children invent something that I never, ever thought I’d have to tell them not to do. Case in point: yesterday’s swim practice. My boys are six and eight, and with a lot of coaching, I’ve finally started letting them change in the boys’ locker room instead of the family bathroom. I’ve set parameters: they have to stay together. They have to check the area before they leave and make sure they’ve gotten everything. They know to come to me if anything makes them uncomfortable.
I’m not saying it’s gone completely smoothly. An 11-year-old teammate recently emerged from the locker room to tell me my six-year-old was running naked around the locker room. Sometimes I hear loud yelling and hysterical laughter. Sometimes I hear total silence, which is even more frightening. At one point, I think there was a child in a locker.
But yesterday, my six-year-old did something I never thought to tell him not to do. I was talking to friends, with my back to the locker room door. Suddenly, a look of horror flickered across my friends’ faces. I knew immediately that it was one of my kids. And I knew immediately that I wasn’t going to be happy.
Apparently, the zipper on the backpack had gotten stuck, and one child couldn’t get his shorts out. So he came out to ask for my help…in his Star Wars underwear. Now if he had a morning warning label, I would have known to say, “You shouldn’t come out of the locker room in your underwear.” But who in their right mind says something like that? Isn’t that obvious? I guess I should just be grateful he had underwear on. His older brother once answered the door completely naked. Bless my poor neighbor’s heart.
I’d be a lot more competent as a parent if I could just get some idea of what to expect, you know? Maybe we need to start a new Facebook page where we share all the things our kids get into. There’s power in knowledge, after all. I know I’m not the only person whose kid killed the minivan CD player by filling it up with pennies while I was strapping his baby brother into the car seat. And surely someone else’s kid has unloaded a bottle of baby power all over the room during his “quiet time.” I’m quite certain my parenting motto is, “I would have never thought of that!”
Help another mama out. What’s the worst thing you never thought to tell your kids not to do?
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