This parenting thing is a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants affair for me. I’ve got enough maternal intuition to get me through the day with my child essentially unscathed. For instance, she narrowly escaped eating goose poop yesterday thanks to my stealthy ways. I’m a pro. But when it comes to the details, I am learning as I go and making decisions as challenges arise. I am not a child psychologist, and I am sure I will make some totally intentional weirdo choices during the next 17 years regarding C’s upbringing. In the last year, I’ve learned that you make concessions and just do what works to get everyone to the next nap time without crying too much.
I have caved and bought her Made in China, BPA-laced plastic trinkets from the dollar store against my better judgement. I have given her deceptively sweet Multigrain Cheerios because I didn’t want to cut up something more healthy. On uncountable occasions, I have forgotten to wash her hands – fresh from a trip to the playground – before she eats. These are my confessions.
I will make a lot of mistakes and I am no expert nor a mastermind. But there are some things I don’t think I’ll ever do for the sake of easiness.
Take this product I ran across today: it is a duvet cover that your kid can draw all over. The product reviews were glowing.
“I am for sure going to get this for Timmy!”
“We got it for my daughter and she loves it! Now she can express herself on her bed!”
“What a wall-saver!”
Something about this item left me a little uneasy. It seems like as parents, one of the things we should be doing is teaching our kids boundaries. I don’t have to tell you that I am all for creativity and teaching children to draw, read, color, create, and express themselves with their words. It’s their nature to do so and the best thing we can do outside of loving them and giving them security is fostering an environment for them to explore the world safely. But drawing on the bedsheets? Um, no.
Call me old fashioned, but I think duvets are for sleeping on. They are not disposable. Kids will make messes and some of them will draw on walls, but the idea of intentionally buying something for them to write all over and likely destroy does not sit well with me. I had one comforter growing up. It was purple and frilly. I picked it out at Goldsmiths when I was seven and it was not updated in my room until it was totally worn out when I was 13. I had ceased liking it when I was ten, but I knew that it was my comforter so it would be used to completion. It was my job to keep it clean and neat and not spill nail polish all over it. Our parents expected us to make our belongings last and to understand that the furniture and fixtures in our home were there to stay and not be used for whatever whim we thought up.
I realize I just got a little “in my day” there. But at some point “my day” was phased out. There are many, many advantages C will have by being born when she was, but I’m not too keen on the consumerism that is so prevalent now. It is way too simple to go out and buy a new item that will make yours and your kid’s life more fun and/or easy. But will purchasing your child a bedspread she can draw on boost her self esteem in a real way? Will it give her the edge on getting into art school when she’s older? How much time will it really buy you when your child is driving you nuts while you make dinner and you just need her to have a brief diversion? Is it really worth it to teach your kids that the possessions you work to provide for them can be appropriated for whatever purpose their minds can think up?
This is a tricky one, methinks. Thoughts?