By Guest Blogger Ginny Olson
You know the expression: Children should be seen and not heard. It’s total bunk. Do not build your parenting around this concept! You will live to regret it.
Your kid will draw horses on the wall behind her bed. Or draw all over his head. Or hide in the pantry eating your skittles. Nothing good will come of this.
I’m pretty sure some 1950’s dad is responsible for this notion. You know the type. The kind you actually have to call “Father,” who sends the mom off to silence the little ones so that he can read the newspaper in peace after a long day at the office. I’m pretty sure the only time that dad spent with those little ones was at the dinner table for 30 minutes where he lectured them about how they’d better clear their plates or they won’t get any dessert.
Children should be heard, not seen
If I had my druthers, the phrase would actually be: children should be HEARD and not seen.
(Unless it’s between the hours of 8pm and 8am. Then they should be neither seen, nor heard while momma sips her wine and indulges in a trashy romance novel.)
Because we all know what happens when you suddenly become acutely aware that the house has gone silent. Your children are lurking somewhere, doing Lord only knows what.
See examples in the opening paragraph. (Editor’s note: I did partake in the horse-drawing activity. At my best friend’s house. It was all her idea. She really loved horses. She had lots of those 1-foot-tall plastic ones. Our drawings were actually quite good. I never understood why we got in so much trouble, because, as I said, the pictures were hidden behind the bed. On the other hand, art that good is just screaming to be discovered. I get that now.)
Silence isn’t golden
The other day I suggested to the 3-year-old that he go play in his room. With his legos or blocks or whatever (he’s even got a potty in there, so have at it, child!) I needed a break. I’d spent the morning shuffling him around town to various children’s activities and taking him out for a “fancy” lunch. (In his world, “fancy” means they serve pineapple.) We’d had a fun mommy-son morning. In order to have an equally fun mommy-son afternoon, the contract now called for a little downtime. At least that was my opinion.
I did try to bribe him with play dough first. We could hang out in the same room if I got to write a bit while he cut up purple snakes and blue worms composed of that sickly, sweet-smelly stuff. But that devolved into pleadings of: Mommy, look at this, I’m dropping some on the floor… Mommy, look at this, I’m putting some in my mouth… Mommy, look at this, I’m throwing some at the dog… (Wait, what? We don’t have a dog.)
Dude, you’re 3 and a half now. It’s time to man up and entertain yourself for, like, 10 minutes. After all, you owe me. I spent $30 on exotic fruit for you two hours ago. Now be a good little dear and go play in your room.
It seemed to work. And I entered that altered state of writing where the world dissolves. Twenty minutes later, it hit me: s-i-l-e-n-c-e.
Silence is golden.
Not so much.
More like: Silence like a cancer grows.
My first thought was, “Oh, he’s decided to take a nap! Well, I’ll go check on him and cover him up with a blanket.”
Did I mention he’s outgrown naps now? They say it happens around this age. (Can you hear me sobbing across town?) It’s a travesty. A sad right of passage for all mothers, I mean, children.
So, yes, that pleasant thought vanished as soon as I started down the hall. Where I was hit with an odd smell. A medicinal, very un-play-dough-like smell. Coming from his brother’s room.
Dread crept over me as I stealthily peeked in the door.
There he was. Standing 3 feet off the ground on top of his brother’s changing table. Covered head-to-toe in hand sanitizer.
At least he was clean. And not busy drawing horses on the wall.
Which leads me back to this: children should be HEARD and not seen.
Ginny Olson is the author of the blog MothersRest.com, a love letter to moms, both new and seasoned, journeying from sleep deprived to joy-arrived. When not riding-herd over two small male children, Ginny works full time at a global nonprofit that specializes in leadership development and teaches Marketing for Nonprofits at the local university.
Ginny’s essays have appeared in the Greensboro News & Record and Triad Moms on Main, as well as several mom blogs. You can follow MothersRest on Facebook.