Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Confessions of a Non-Conformist

Like most kids, I desperately wanted to fit in when I was growing up. But for many reasons, I didn't. That became kind of a habit, and as an adult, although I still crave approval tremendously (one kind comment on my blog will have me smiling all day!), I have become much more comfortable with myself and going against the flow.

So I am going to make a confession. Please don't judge me too harshly. I have always been open about most of our parenting choices, even those that might provoke some controversy. But, I have never had a bad reaction to breastfeeding an older child in public. This, on the other hand, has garnered some passive-aggressive comments and dirty looks in the past. :deep breath: I let my children climb up the slide on playgrounds.

I shall add the hasty disclaimer that if someone is at the top, they always let that person come down first. Otherwise, they spend far more time going up the slide than coming down it. At the parks that have parallel slides, they race each other over and over to see who can get to the top first. Some parents strongly disapprove of this, I know. But I have yet to hear much of a reason for it. As long as other children are being respected and allowed to go down the slide, I can't find a reason to prohibit it other that "we just aren't supposed to do it that way."

When my sister and I were small, my mom's response to our incessant questions of why things had to be done a certain way was, "Because that's the way it is/was done." We found that nonsense, of course. Mere precedence was unsatisfying as a reason for me. It still is. Knowing that most people did/do things that way is comforting at times, but not reason enough to continue doing it that way.

Photo by Craneform
On some level, my mom must have felt the same way. When we were traveling through Europe, she pointed out several houses with lovely window boxes full of red and pink flowers. In a voice full of emotion, she explained that when she was in first grade, she had been coloring a picture and had been told by the teacher that it was ugly--that no one would put red and pink flowers next to each other because they didn't go together. More than 50 years later, she still felt the sting of that remark, and the exhilaration of being proven right.

I've heard several parents say that slides are not for climbing up--only for sitting down on. (Since I'm confessing here, I'll go ahead and admit that half the time, when our kids do come down the slide, they are on their tummies). I always monitor for safety, and they have always been great about that, too.

Why do I allow this? Well, it is more educational this way. Each time they climb up they are learning about physics, their center of gravity, balance, momentum and a host of other concepts. They are also learning that there is more than one way of doing things, and that while they should always respect others, they don't always have to imitate them. That is an incredibly valuable lesson. 50 years from now, I don't want them to regret not coloring according to someone else's vision of the picture. Finally, it is just plain fun! And really, fun is reason enough.


Darla said...

This gets my stamp of approval. ;)

dulce de leche said...

Thank you! Your comment has had me smiling today. :)

Staci said...

I love it! I used to tell my children not to do that because that's what everyone else said, but I really never understood what the big deal was. Even as adults we like to color out of the line on occasion. It's not a cookie cutter world and we need those who are willing to break out of the mold. Thanks for helping put my mind at ease for not "fitting in" with the world's views. After all, "...we are not of this world." John 15:19