Honest Moms: Parenting the kids you have, not the kid you were, a continual challenge

Robyn Rison and Jean Hardiman are both raising little ones – Robyn, two boys ages 7 and 5, and Jean, two girls ages 8 and 6 (with a grown stepdaughter as well). They decided to save some of their daily parenting conversations for posterity.

ROBYN: It occurs to me, Jean, that while my children may have my genetics and certain personality traits that would remind you of me, they are, in fact, not me. They are also not each other. This might be my single biggest parenting challenge. Just hear me out for a minute.

The closest thing to having a parenting manual comes when they’re itty-bitty. I mean, in most cases it’s eat, sleep and fill the diaper with regularity. Total dependence on you is physically exhausting, but independence is mentally exhausting. When individual personalities and interests begin to take shape it starts to become more complicated. And we’re just at the tip of the iceberg, friend. I was thinking about this as we began working on teaching the kids to ride bikes last week

Yes, we finally purchased new big boy bikes with no training wheels. We’ve talked multiple times in this space about the significance and independence of bike riding. In my mind, it’s practically the gateway to the next phase of parenting. I remember how excited I was to learn and to take off down the road away from home and my parents. The freedom and sheer joy of choosing which way to go and the adventure I might find were certainly calling my name.

I never thought that my children might feel differently about it or simply wouldn’t be interested in learning. The oldest had absolutely no interest in even getting on the bike. He thought there was a chance he could get hurt, and he didn’t want to risk it. The youngest was excited to try but not excited for me to let go.

After one driveway session, we took them to the closed school parking lot where they had more space and were free of traffic. The oldest was generally not interested and needed bribes, threats and taunting from his little brother to even get his helmet on. I’m not super proud of that, but he can’t be afraid of everything either. Anyway, after about 20

minutes he was going entirely on his own. He was riding laps around the parking lot and yelling that he loved it.

The youngest was happy to get on and try without any coercion, but he lacks his brother’s coordination at the moment and never got more than a few yards before falling over and collecting scrapes and bruises. He kept trying for the better part of an hour but eventually flat refused to get back on. He did promise he would try again another day.

They’re so different, Jean. It’s hard to know how to handle them sometimes. They require different discipline tactics. They have such different personalities, interests and responses to stimuli. I suppose that’s the way we want it, but mercy, it taxes my brain and my patience some days. While my boys learn to ride bikes, I’m getting a fresh lesson in parenting the kids I have not the ones I thought I might have or the one I was.

JEAN: You are so right, friend. If I’m being honest, neither of my kids were super thrilled during the process of learning to ride a bike. Neither of them took falls well and were pretty much done for the day after a jarring one. At this point, however, my oldest loves to ride around the park, as I expected. My youngest can ride, but not get started on her own, so she’s not quite to the stage of being excited to ride. We’re so close, though. It’s going to happen before the end of the summer. I know it.

But you’re right about them generally being different from each other and from me. I was telling my 8-year-old how much fun it is to ride your bike down a hill, so long as it’s not too steep. That’s super fun, isn’t it? Well, my daughter is not interested. She’s always been my cautious one. On the other hand, when my 6-year-old was a toddler, she was the one who’d go down slides head first, without thinking twice. She’s a little more careful now. There was that time she jumped off a stone wall at the park and bit her tongue pretty badly. Things like that aren’t forgotten quickly.

In all, the differing personalities certainly keeps me in a state of bewilderment while parenting, whether we’re riding bikes or figuring out what to do for the day. It always seems like when one is in the mood to swim, the other wants to play board games. When one wants to bake chocolate chip cookies, the other wants to bake cut-outs. When I was young, I got excited about the bookmobile and having a couple hours with a chapter book. My youngest gets excited about going to the craft store and some time with a hot glue gun. My oldest gets excited about looking at family pictures and videos, and taking some herself when she can get her hands on my phone.

And who knows if they’ll be into entirely different things a few years from now. Who knows if they’ll be halfway to the Tour de France. I hadn’t been a mother very long before I realized that being in a constant state of amazement or confusion – or a combination of the two – is pretty much how this parenting gig goes. Am I right?

ROBYN: Oh yes, equal parts amazement and confusion with a dash of concern and regular bursts of overwhelming joy.

Source > http://www.herald-dispatch.com/features_entertainment/honest-moms-parenting-the-kids-you-have-not-the-kid/article_ca07b34f-3254-5ebb-87dc-23061864bd53.html

Recent Posts