One of the most interesting things to come of all the holiday gatherings this time of year is seeing how much the kids in my life have changed from the last snapshot of time I spent with them a year ago. Nothing marks time like kids do, especially when they are under ten! Another interesting thing is to see how the different parenting styles have played out for another year, because boy do all of my friends and family parent differently from each other and from the way we do.
Not that I’m judging everyone (except my 9 year old nephew that ripped a toy away from Ali then bulldozed over Kasey then screamed about wanting cookies, I’m totally judging that), but it all prompts good conversation with Jen and I about our particular philosophies. Over the last couple years, seeing how wild and crazy our nephews are encouraged us to tighten up our discipline with Ali. Seeing how considerate the second cousins are encouraged is to have more in depth talks with Ali about feelings and how her actions make other people feel. Seeing how siblings in every circumstance interacted was the main push for us to have more children and to specifically request Ali’s age when putting ourselves out there as foster parents.
We spent the day with an old friend and her family yesterday. This particular friend and I have struggled a bit with our friendship since having kids because of those strong opinions in the baby times. She judged me for supplementing with formula and stopping breastfeeding because I was sick of it, I judged her for whipping her boob out and breastfeeding her 2 year old in front of my kids then acting like they were weirdos for being shocked about it all. She judged me for putting Ali in girly clothes, I’m experiencing some major schadenfraude seeing her girl insist on wearing a sparkly tutu every day. The list goes on, you name the hot button baby topic and we probably came down on different sides of it. Now that our girls are older and all that stuff that seemed so important at the time is long over, we are pleasantly surprised at how much our kids like each other and how well our families fit together. Now instead trying not to roll my eyes the whole time, I’m noticing how great my friend is at gently redirecting her kid and I’m taking a look at the harsh “no” or “cut it out” I bark at the kids sometimes. I’m noticing how she never looked at her phone the entire time we were there and I’m thinking about how often (like now, hehe) that I ignore everyone to mindlessly scroll through facebook.
For the first time I was actually envious of some aspects of their family life! We are a kind of big family, we are loud and boisterous and my kids all have big emotions that they wear on their sleeves. All three are very physical and will always run instead of walking and will knock something over if it’s even remotely knockoverable and will climb things even when they know they shouldn’t. My friend only has the one girl, and her personality is so very different than mine. We walked into them listening to the nutcracker, the little girl dipping her fingers and gently blowing on a bowl full of bubbles at her play table, and the parents reading actual books. I’ll admit, I was a little jealous. Of course my kids pulled out some instruments and started banging away and smashed through that bowl of bubbles in ten seconds. They all had fun playing and miraculously no one fought, but we definitely shattered that idyllic little scene we walked in on.
So what can we do to achieve such a scene at our house? I suspect the answer is nothing, just not going to happen here anytime soon. I suppose I have to hold on to nap time with all I got to have those peaceful moments during the day, my little wild things are always up to something.