Monday, October 13, 2014

I Like Your Parenting Stance

It's that time of year again.  The many hues of orange, red and yellow are painting the leaves outside while horror and death stalk every store.  If you happen to have children who haven't been desensitized to such things, it can make entering a clothing or grocery store like walking a gauntlet of terror.  My boy chooses to avert his eyes, but since he is only four, it is still terrorizing for him to encounter zombie masks and bloody visages when he goes to buy bananas with Mommy.

I actually have pleasant memories about the Halloween. What kid doesn't like to wear a costume?  Though I'm more inclined to use harvest decor then Halloween decorations, that's me.  If someone else feels it's festive to decorate with spider webs and tombstones, that's fine.  Daniel and I avoid those homes on holiday walks or when we take our children trick or treating.  We try to downplay the horror side of Halloween because that's our choice as parents.  Our kids dress up as dinosaurs and unicorns, heroes and furry critters:  guaranteed to kill with cuteness.

The other day,  we went to a store with Grandma:  she had two chilluns in her cart, while I had Mystery in mine.  I was perusing ladies coats, when I heard my little girl's laughter.  A pair of ladies were dangling a 3 ft skeleton with glowing red eyes at my two year old.  The ugly decor piece was chortling with creepy laughteer, and Mystery,  innocent sweetheart that she is, was giggling back.  The ladies were laughing at her reaction.  I intervened, gently but firmly: "I don't want her to see that."
The lady holding the skeleton, waved away my concern, as one might flick away a passing fly.
"She's not scared," the lady told me, "She thinks it's funny!"and continued to dangle the grim specter in front of my child.

I looked behind me in concern too see if my son had seen it.  He is the more sensitive of the two and deals with more nightmares than my daughter.   Grandma had overheard the woman and had seen the skeleton.  She was already moving her cart with Caedyn reading a book inside, and was heading the other way.  I gently distracted Mystery to the soft fluffy hood on a coat, ("Look at this, Baby.  Isn't it beautiful?), pulling her attention away from the cackling decor piece and the entertained women.  I saw them roll their eyes at the "overprotective" mother, so unreasonably preventing her child from enjoying a little fun.

I considered, momentarily, whether I should explain to these women my stance.  Do I try to tell them that I wish to keep my children's innocence as long as possible?   That I believe their sensitivity is beautiful?   That, as a parent, it wrings my heart when their slumber is interrupted by nightmares?  That I remember the fears I had to deal with as a child and this dangling skeleton with glowing red eyes happens to be the very epitome of the imagined demons who waited beneath my bed to grasp my ankles? That I would like the chance to educate my children about the wonders of our skeletal frame without there being any fear attached to it?  When a child is between two and four, it can be hard to battle such phantoms.  Sometimes, they don't even have the words to describe what they see.  Daniel and I don't take their fears lightly.  We walk with our children through their fears.  We listen.  We hold them.  We wipe away their tears.  We pray with them.

No, I decided.   I will not share all this with two perfect strangers, who have already demonstrated that they don't care about what I think or how I parent, as soon as they ignored my first comment to them.

Instead, continuing to keep my daughter distracted, I turned the shopping cart around and prepared to go the other way.

An older black gentleman stood nearby.  I had noticed him earlier for he had smiled at Mystery before the two ladies had brought out their creepy decor item.  He seemed to be patiently waiting for his wife as she shopped the aisle opposite me.  He had observed the whole exchange.

"Good for you," he said quietly to me, as I manipulated the shopping cart in the other direction.  "I commend you."

Most parents know you don't always receive a public commendation, for going against the court of public opinion.  It felt good to get that affirming word from this man.
 But even if I recieve no approval whatever for my parenting choices,  I figure my children and what goes in to their little eye gates, is much more my responsibility than a pair of random strangers.

And if that makes me overprotective, than so be it.

As with the decor of Halloween,  I'm not trying to push my ideals onto others.  But I do think it is important for parents to be affirmed as they make their own decisions regarding how they choose to parent.

 If you are a parent who has had to defend your parenting and yet you are doing what you feel is right for your family and kids, if you have made a claim to your right to parent your child only to have it ignored and yet you held your ground anyway, if you have had to walk away to stand up for your choice to parent the way you would like, ignoring the looks of people who hold different values while judging yours...well, then:  "You hold to what you believe. They might not say it, but I will:  Those little ones are your responsibility.  Good for you.  I commend you."

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