Today is my oldest daughter’s fifth birthday. Wow, that’s not really a long time, but quite a bit has happened since then. When Brinley was born our parenting life was born too. She’s taught us so much in a short time and it’s a good thing too, because the twin girls turn two soon and we will welcome our first son, Ben any day now (due date was last Saturday). If you asked me in 2003 (10 years ago) where would I be and how many kids would I have, I would have answered married with a child or two. Though I knew Jen was out there somewhere and that I would be with her was of no doubt, but four children? No way would I have envisioned me being so lucky. Before she was born I bought a library full of books on raising daughters, and they gave me some good tidbits. But the learning she’s provided for me has been priceless. As much as we want to teach our kids (the Golden Rule, proper manners, skills, etc.) it is inevitable that they are our teachers as well. Though some things I’ve learned are almost common sense, here are a few items I’ve picked up :
- If changing diapers were a martial art I would be Bruce Lee. With three (4th is eminent) kids running around, the words “I don’t do diapers” doesn’t cut it. Besides, it’s better to get rid of the mess than try to ignore it and stinking up the house.
- A little crying will help the soul. Kids learn to manipulate very early and sometimes kids should get their way (good advocacy skills), other times letting them cry and learn to adjust to not getting what they want is a very good thing.
- The small stuff-When arguing with Brinley about getting dressed and you want to scream, I’ve realized that letting her put on non-matching socks isn’t the end of the world. After learning that this is the cool thing with some youngsters, I learned to take a breath, let her exercise her initiative and move to something more important.
- Give them things to do-Kids need to be engaged and the more items we arrange for them to do, the better (crafts, chores, sports, games, etc.)
- Kids need to understand the responsibilities of life, but this has to be balanced with letting them know they are the most important thing in our lives.
- They learn by observing and doing, not verbal commands alone (I’ve tried). Brinley and all of the kids have watched and learned from watching me, Jen, their Abuela, Nana, Grandpa, Abuelo, Titi, Uncle…
- Most importantly, seeing yourself through their eyes gives you the most important perspective you can ever have.
There’s more to learn in the future (God help me for the teen years) but it’s been a great five years. That’s my take.