Is my house truly democratic or am I just a Superman asshole?
My 3 kids are roughly 3 years apart. Ages 6, 3 & 1. For a while now I was not able to put my finger on a very subtle yet constant occurrence whenever the 3 of them play together. I have asked Mila (my eldest) by occasion to please help the babies with something, like show them where the shapes go into or help them build the train track or switching on the game pad for them (not that she could read yet she memorized the buttons). By nature Mila wants to control everything & every one around her, therefore she has ALWAYS been much obliged to lend a hand. (I really identify with that). As Mila is getting older her initiative & creativity is developing to the point where she starts most of the games they come up with. So justifiably she controls the game. It is the games she doesn't start where things became more clear to me about my own behavior. She continuously insisted that the babies do things "her way" irrespective of who's idea this was. She will dish out who plays what character...& then constantly tell them how that character should behave. My youngest fairy tale Peta (1) is too dumb to protest, she's just grateful to be included in this dictated friendship but It's never long before I hear my son Lucius (3) give her the finger with a final shout of "just stop telling me what to do Mila!" After this next episode I saw who I was.
So a while ago Mila was passionately executing an extremely disturbing (only to me) exercise that she claimed was highly educational. After imploring her with my own passion to please cut it out...she turned to me & replied. Daddy, why can you make a noise but I can't?
Then followed the stare off & boy can we stare at each other without flinching which eventually concluded in me asking: "would you please take US ALL (I'm such a hypocrite) into consideration and continue somewhere else"? As she got up and the noise faded into whatever direction she chose to go I could not help but be embarrassed with how many times I did something that made me (& only me) very happy but might have been unpleasant for my kids like vacuuming the floor @ 3 in the morning or in the middle of their story or vacuum the car every time they want to go somewhere & make them wait (I else will I seem in control with a dirty car & so many kids) ??
My vacuum cleaner brings me such joy.
So while vacuuming a while later I started thinking...do my kids really feel that this is their home as much as it is mine? I want to know & understand them as much as they know me & understand me, but I cannot do this, if they only follow orders. I also want to see how they think for themselves & have the freedom to make their own mistakes.
Cleaning the play room used to be a Joy-stick-moment where I would command what happens when... Our big break through came when we wrote a "pick up song". They all know where the toys go. How they choose to go about getting this done is up to them. So instead of commanding what to do in what order, I just sing. In the beginning we sang for quite some time because they didn't have a plan. In fact they didn't know they needed a plan. So we stopped often, gave a hint and carried on singing. As weeks went by I would just make a single suggestion to one of them before we start to sing, to give their thinking some direction. That's all I needed to do. Our song is quite short nowadays & they waste less time not knowing what to do next. They construct all kinds of plans of how to get this done more efficiently each time, so they clean up in different ways each time now...all with the same outcome!
We now outline our common goals and I leave them to it. Its nice to get to know them. We still argue through the noisy events that we each pursue like we own the joint.
Their view & perspective in turn challenges mine. In "Our" home every perspective is different & must be welcome & is needed so that we can all learn & welcome new ways of thinking. Every one belongs & everyone should have a voice.
If our kids don't change who we are....not even Vodka will.