"Don't worry about it buddy! You're doing a great job on your farts!"Yep, this was what came out of my husband's mouth as we drove home from a fun evening celebrating our son's fantastic soccer season having pizza with the team. Now, if you are still reading this, then you are possibly a parent who has many fun, goofy, even hysterical side-splitting moments with your kids! Or...you just have to fulfill your curiosity. Those who quickly decided they clicked on the wrong blog will just have to miss out this time.
We were having one of those drives home in which our kids were way too happy. Ya know what I mean? They were all laughing and goofing off with each other....and they were loud! Like, really loud! And honestly, my husband and I just didn't care. We were talking and reflecting on how fun it was to have the entire Vikings Pizzeria filled with Evergreen Vikings soccer players and their families, from our son's team. They played air hockey and spent way too much money trying to win stuffed animals and bouncy balls from the claw machine. Everyone had a blast. So it continued in the car. Everyone was in a great mood, including mama and daddy. So, what naturally transpired was the game of trying to see who could make the others laugh the hardest with the fake
So, there they were in the car playing the fake farts game and having a great time when Luke realized he wasn't getting the usual laughs. He started feeling a bit bummed out. That's when my husband encouraged him: "Don't worry about it buddy! You're doing a great job on your farts!" Of course, that completely cracked me up! The things you never dreamed you'd say as a parent.
What I realized reflecting on this drive home was that sometimes I fail to just enjoy my children being children. Not this night...but all too often. At times, when they are just being children and having mostly innocent fun together, I get uptight. I know there must be something at the root of that and I haven't completely put my finger on it. But the first step for me is realizing that it's okay to just let it be sometimes. They are kids, for goodness sake! And they will only be kids once. And how often do I remind them that it's great being a kid? That really, they don't want to grow up so fast. Life only gets tougher. They have it so good right now. Then why can't I just allow them to be kids more often?! Why must so many situations end with me reminding them to settle down, practice self-control, and remember their manners?
I think partly it's fear. There it is again. That ugly four-letter word that prevents me from being the best parent I can possibly be for my children. Sometimes when they are just acting like kids, I become fearful that I'm not doing my job well enough. I'm afraid that maybe they don't remember any of their manners! That they have no idea what is appropriate behavior and what is not. Never mind that home should be a completely safe place for them to learn. And home should be a completely safe place to just be...kids! And in case you're wondering: yes, we do teach and emphasize manners and appropriate behavior when at school and friends' homes and church. Often we feel proud of their good behavior at those venues; I received glowing reports at school conferences this year. But just as often, we are embarrassed about some one's behavior in public. I think that is where my mind goes. If I'm not continually reinforcing the expected behavior, then they'll make an obvious faux pas again, right?!
That's the point though. They are children, who are learning to live their lives on this earth with all the other people learning to do the same. They are going to mess up aplenty. They will also figure it out. Our job is to model what's appropriate and to engage in plenty of opportunities for them. But our job is not to obsess about their behavior and to be uptight at all times about maturity and manners. They should be able to have fake fart contests! They should be able to wrestle and melt into tickle-fights at home. Why the heck not? They are kids! There are many years ahead of them when life's expectations will overwhelm. I hope that they can learn, in our home, to laugh and play and enjoy life to the fullest. We take ourselves too seriously as adults! I'm not sure why we think that if we have too much fun we won't fulfill our expectations. And again, I know that there's a time and a place. But if that's true, then the place is our home, our backyard, and our car. From time to time it's also the dinner table. And while my upbringing prevents me from relaxing too much at the dinner table, I'm fully aware that on the occasions that my husband and I allow it, everyone is in a better mood the remainder of the evening. Truly, a merry heart does good like a medicine.*
Furthermore, I don't ultimately want to change who my kids are. They are fun and creative. They are funny and playful. I don't want to rob them of these years at all. I read something this morning that was on a different topic but the point was made that if we are constantly trying to stifle or change who our children are (or their natural behavior and inclinations), then we will probably constantly wrestle with negative emotions toward them. I can see how that can happen. That has happened in my mothering from time to time. I don't want that at all! I want to love them for the precious, playful, beautiful children God made them to be tempered with moving them toward maturity and greater responsibility.
My family is getting ready to embark on our first-ever family vacation. We are all very excited. We've had road trips a few hours away to Grandma and Grandpa's, but this is a for-real vacation....with a long drive. I think God was reminding me last night, while listening to our kids crack up with fake farts, that it is good to laugh with our children. It's so healthy for us all to let down our hair and have fun. I envision many fake fart contests and other moments of hysterical laughter and fun with our family on this adventure. I can't wait!
I'm having Coffee For Your Heart with my friend Holley Gerth