There is a rule in my home that seems to be broken quite often. I do not think I am an overbearing mother and firmly stand on the idea that rules and structure are good for kids, yet I am still a believer in being flexible and letting kids explore.
With one rule, however, I do not budge:
“Do not leave the house without asking permission!”
It was a bright Wednesday morning last week and I was feeding baby Gertrude. I could hear Raymond and Anne chattering away, playing with their Legos and debating who liked school the most.
Rocking little Gertrude, she guzzled her formula and smiled from time to time, pleased in knowing she was in her mama’s arms being fed.
I breathed a sigh of early morning relief that no one was arguing or having a meltdown, which is usually when something unexpected happens.
The sound of the front door opening shook me out of my content daydream. I thought Peter (my husband) was in the shower...
Straining my ears, I indeed heard the splashing sound of someone washing up and rising from the rocking chair, I bolted from Gertrude’s room and down the stairs.
Walking through our finger-smudged glass door, I squinted as the morning sun beams blinded me through the trees in our front yard.
“Raymond?” I shouted, knowing full well my neighbors would hear me through the spring breeze of their open windows.
Baby Gertrude burped and giggled almost at the same time, letting me know she knew what her mischievous brother was up to.
“I’m here, Mama!” Raymond said, carefully tip-toeing through the morning dew, clothed in nothing but his Spider Man boxer briefs.
I could feel my blood starting to pump faster through my veins as thousands of thoughts about safety plowed through my head.
"What on earth are you doing? Get in this house!" I said, waiting for the bizarre explanation typical of my 5-year-old son.
"Okay, okay, but I went to get a CD out of the car and I saw this mama and daddy duck and I had to chase them through the yard!"
There are at least 2 or 3 times each day when my children leave me speechless. I have no snappy comebacks or clever lessons I can muster in an instant, so I stare at them in confusion.
I switched Gertrude to my right hip so I could squat down to look Raymond in the eye. The squishing of her milk filled tummy forced her to spit up all over herself and soil my clean jeans.
"Raymond, what is our rule?"
(Blank stare from Raymond.)
Three-year-old Anne, the observer and hearer of everything, answered from the family room:
“Always ask before you go outside!”
“Always ask before you go outside.” I repeated.
“Okay, mama.” Raymond replied, smiling and kissing me on the cheek. The look in his eye was that of sympathy saying to me, “Oh you poor woman and your silly rules. I will listen to you one day. But not today.”
Have you had any “What are you doing/thinking” moments with your children?
I am sure this is the first of many moments I will want to face-palm myself in disbelief...