“Would you like Buzz big boy pants or Monsters big boy pants?”
My husband is offering my toddler a choice. We both know that this is Good Parenting; our toddler feels he has the control and we have bestowed responsibility upon him. In turn he will develop his abilities of decision making on his own terms which will drive self esteem and grow moral fibre. But we are really in charge by offering two of essentially the same thing. What’s interesting is my husband is asking the toddler hoping that I will hear and praise him for Good Parenting.
The toddler snatches at a pair of pants indiscriminately and throws them down the stairs “no big boy pants, ANYMORE”
I watch my son’s small dimpled bottom run off into the distance, feet slapping on the floor as he runs. He laughs and looks behind him, hoping for someone to chase him.
“Well that was a good try at Good Parenting” I weakly offer my husband. Half a gold star.
Later, my husband and son play in the hallway, front door open, throwing a small spongy ball while we gather ourselves to leave. They are both deliriously happy chasing after this silly ball and my toddler laughs as he tries to catch it, his small clay like hands pushing it further away each time he gets near it. The ball rolls out into the road and my husband and toddler rush after it. This is Extremely Bad Parenting; the road, my husband’s competitive streak, the inappropriate age of the brand on the ball (Angry Birds). I step out into the road, face thunderous.
My son quickly reacts, knowing what is coming, “Nor-tee Daddy, nor-tee” and starts to waggle his finger at him.
It stops me short. Granted playing in the road isn’t what you would call safe, but do we need to intellectualise and analyse everything so much? Boundaries, analogies, framed decision making.
I remind myself that it’s more about holding hands for as long as possible and having some fun along the way.