I remember third grade as a series of adventures—do kids still have those? My friend Rob was my co-conspirator building tree forts and clambering around houses under construction nearby. I was the mastermind and Rob the test pilot, so he came away with more restriction time and dislocated shoulders than me. Mom pretended not to know about the danger and intrigue—plans to counter the spies and villains we invented—her son embraced on a regular basis and silently applied Mercurochrome and Band-Aids to the wounds I earned. I don’t remember many things being off limits, but I made it to fourth grade so there must have been some, and she didn’t even yell when she caught Rob and me creeping into the house after daring to sneak out during a sleep-over.
I relished other adventures as well which, even if less dangerous, were also exciting and invigorating. I pitched once in Little League (even to some 10-year olds!), an inning which was the World Series to me. I played hide-and-go-seek (at night, and with girls too!) and architected buildings with Legos which, when used for such advanced design work, were surely not little-kid toys anymore. Mom let me come home with holes in my socks and admired my construction projects, and she and Dad clapped at those events parents love like school award ceremonies and getting recognized for doing something we were supposed to do at Sunday School.
One of my favorite adventures was when Mom would take my sister and me to the downtown library. The building was huge and mysterious, and I was allowed, even encouraged, to wander the floors and book stacks on my own since big kids can do things like that. After what seemed like hours of exploration and investigation, I would stagger back with my bounty: mystery books, detective books, science fiction books, and even one of those biographies they read in fifth grade. The three of us would set up camp on one of the couches near the big windows with the trees outside, and I would claim my place on the sofa while Mom read to my sister on the other end. Sometimes, while listening to my sister’s story but pretending I wasn’t, I would notice how Mom explained words and asked questions, just like she had done with me when I was little.
Looking back, I don’t think raising kids in the sixties was as perplexing or all-consuming as we make it out to be now, especially seen through a kid’s eyes. As far as I know, my Mom never owned a parenting book. If she had, she may have read about things like adventure-allowing boundaries and relationships marked by warmth and safety. Or, she might have seen examples of parents who encouraged activities to expand their kid’s world, who modeled the way for them, and who taught without seeming to. Come to think of it, I don’t think she thought of parenting as something Moms had to actually DO—like breathing.
She just smiled at my adventures and took us to the library.
Question: What is your parenting like when seen through a kid’s eyes?
Action: Read the STEPS Journey Blog article on “How to Be a Great Parent.”