We heard about a local sunflower farm that is only a few minutes from our house and decided to check it out last weekend.
I am trying to be conscious about being more present with my kids, in the truest sense – meaning not taking photos of everything all the time. It’s so easy to get caught-up in social media and taking photos when we have these little devices in our pockets all day and such cute little subjects. Sunday was an exception though in that the entire reason we went was simply to take photos of the kids and explore a local find. Jude picked out his own clothes that morning, so I just went with it and told him I’d put sister in blue to match.
So we get there, and there were gorgeous fields of tall sunflowers as far as you could see. And barns and fences and old shady trees and every perfect photo spot you could imagine.
But after three whole minutes of trying to snap a photo or two, Jude decided he would refuse to participate. And no amount of bribing or threatening or asking nicely or encouraging could work to convince him otherwise. So it might look picturesque, but here is the other [whole] story.
It’s such a hard balance as a parent – deciding what hill you choose to die on, so to speak. What battles to pick. Like do I really care all that much that he refuses to take photos when I ask him lately? Or that he tells me “no, I don’t feel like it” when I ask him to hug grandparents goodbye as they leave? Or that he has suddenly decided that every command and request on my part is a signal for refusal and negotiation? The answer is yes and no. It depends on what trait we’re talking about and what day you ask me. Sometimes it feels like an important battle worth fighting. Sometimes it doesn’t.
I read this great little essay last week, and number two really struck a chord with me. I can see characteristics emerging in my two already. Norah is incredibly shy in larger groups of people, and she has to warm up to new situations. There is no amount of urging or expecting or being pushy that changes this, in fact those actions usually lead to worse behavior. With Jude, I know that he doesn’t like taking photos, he has an abundance of physical energy and curiosity, he could not care less what other kids are doing, and he behaves best when his hands and brain are busy. Is it a better idea for everyone involved to just accept these things and move on and focus on what he enjoys? Or should I start trying, as he grows and emerges to school-age expectations of behavior, to slowly encourage a change in some of these things to adapt to social norms? These are rhetorical questions that I don’t necessarily expect an answer to, but I’m just thinking out loud as I do so often in this space.
I know many of you are tackling similar issues as moms. It’s such a tightrope we walk all the time, it seems. A delicate balance as we try to encourage the best qualities in our kids and help them progress and understand social expectations, but also offer a message of unconditional acceptance. There aren’t any easy answers.
This summer has been a little rough for him….An entire academic year of 8:30-3:30 friends and activities, and now we are home everyday. Plus he’s understanding so much more about the world around him and gaining emotional intelligence, so to speak. It leads to some growing pains, I think. I ran across this quote on Pinterest recently.
I’m trying my hardest to back off and let him bloom in his own way – with just a little gentle guidance. It’s harder some days than others.