Tuesday, June 29, 2010

i give you permission

i love parenting. i love the snuggles & the challenges & the cuteness & creativity that come into play when you're a parent. you get to do any of the stuff that you loved as a kid & sometimes it's just as awesome as you remember, sometimes not so much. i love that you can choose to let your kids do things that you were never allowed to do when you were growing up. i love that you can repeat the things you loved from when you were a kid in hopes that it brings your own kid as much joy as it brought you. i love getting to make the rules. i love that there are as many flavors of parents as there are of people.

sometimes i think i fall into rather non-traditional parenting because we don't do santa clause or the easter bunny. i kind of tried to the do the tooth fairy thing, but brooke told me "mom, i know it's just you & you can't be the fairy because you're too big to wear the suit." (that was around the same time that she told me i was round & have a bulbous chin. she makes me feel so good about myself.) i have reasons for doing these things, it's not just some arbitrary law that i've decreed. santa steals most of jesus' thunder (to my mind) and i want him to keep his thunder. also, i want brooke to be thankful to the people who make her christmas gifts possible. how can she show proper gratitude to some imaginary entity? and as for easter, i think that bunny is out to do the same thing as santa. upstaging God again. she still gets the gifts, baskets & candy so she won't feel like she got the crap end of things, we just do it on a day prior to easter morning so that the focus of the holiday doesn't get diluted by sugar & goodies.

we also celebrate valentine's day in the way my mom invented when we were kids. growing up, we didn't get easter baskets for the same reason as brooke doesn't get one on the real day, so instead, mom made valentine's day a big deal. we got a basket with candy, a treasure hunt with some great gift at the end & the valentine squirrel would hide hershey kisses around our room for us to find when we woke up. sometimes it was months before all of them were found & they had melted or turned white. i haven't worked the treasure hunt in yet because once you introduce something fun to a kid, it becomes the expectation rather than just a one time treat & i'm not ready for that yet. maybe i never will. brooke, of course, felt like she needed to be able to see the valentine squirrel, so we found one in the dog toy section of walmart & now he comes out for about 2 weeks each february & the rest of the year he hibernates. this past year, i made Tiny, the squirrel, a little shirt to wear for his big day. you can't see it very well in the picture, but there's a white heart on the back of it. i never knew creating a pattern and then hand sewing a shirt for a stuffed squirrel would be more challenging than making people clothes!

i also let brooke do things that most other kids aren't allowed to do. i realized it when brooke was about 2 & we'd go out to restaurants to eat with other people & i let brooke stand on her chair or crawl under the table because it was too much to expect her to be able to sit & be quiet while the adults finished eating & talking. my other friends made their kids sit still, but it just didn't seem reasonable to me, so i didn't care. she couldn't jump around, but standing & crawling were fine.

when we got a new refrigerator a few months ago i spent a lot of time switching the contents & cleaning up the old one while the new one cooled down. while i was working on that, my big cat sat up on top watching me like a vulture. brooke decided that she wanted to be a raccoon up there beside sophie cat, and for once in her life, i let her sit on top of the refrigerator. she was required to sit still while she was up there, but she loved the chance to sit up above the regular world & get the critter's eye view of the kitchen.

this past winter, brooke asked one day if she could throw a party with a bathroom theme. i barely hesitated for a second before saying yes. for the next few weeks we plotted & planned & laughed as we came up with all the different things that would make a potty party fun & yet not over the line into obscene. we invited friends from out of town who wouldn't be offended & we served burritos with refried beans & corn because it looked like things you might find in a bathroom. we drank pee punch (lemonade) & served chocolate cake made in a crockpot & call it crotchpot cake. it was the most, ooey, gooey, delicious thing i've ever eaten. we all wore panties on our heads & everyone had to tell a potty joke before they'd get their plate of gross looking food. somehow i only managed to snap a picture of my friend & i, but not the kids. probably even funnier that way. most moms i know wouldn't have wanted to attend our shindig, but i tell ya, it was a good time! and i think brooke will always remember our potty party fondly. i know i will!

i let brooke wear costumes around the house every single day if she wants to. until she turned 7 i even let her wear them out in public almost whenever she wanted. last summer a friend of hers was in the hospital for nearly a month after having surgery & brooke wanted to wear her dinosaur costume when we went to visit one day because she knew her friend thought that costume was particularly funny & she wanted to cheer her up. it was a bit odd strolling through a hospital with a kid in a big, furry dino suit, but it brought smiles or bewildered stares to most of the faces around us. then we had to run several errands afterwards, so she went to walmart & the library as well as a couple other places in the dino suit too. and when brooke wears a costume, she doesn't just walk around like a normal person. oh no, she gets into character & with the dino attire, she holds up just 2 fingers on each hand (to be a proper t-rex) and puts on her snarliest facial expression. she likes to lurch around hunch-backed & roar loudly & sometimes scares small children. she never apologizes or comforts a kid who she scares - because a t-rex would never feel badly for scaring children, so she doesn't either.

i let brooke color on our kitchen floor regularly. it started out as a reading game for school (thanks, mom for the awesome idea), where i'd draw out a big game on the floor & she had to read words & if she read them all & was pleasant about it, i'd wash it all off & let her have her way with the floor for the rest of the day. now we just design maps or other things from time to time. it's a bonding thing for us & it washes off easily, so there's no harm.

recently brooke & i went to a creek with my friend who has 2 girls close in age to brooke & we sat on the banks while the girls romped in the water. it wasn't long before one of them found a good, muddy spot on the bank & started rolling in it. then all three of them were doing it, and reveling in the opportunity to get wholly & completely filthy. there was a wedding going on at the park several yards away & people kept walking down to the creek in their fancy, wedding clothes to take photos & i can only imagine that some of them had to have gotten pics of our disgusting mud crawlers in the background. thank you, God for making kids washable!

brooke spends most of her free time lately drawing. she makes scenes & animals & people & anything else her awesome brain can dream up. she likes to cut them out & play with them like toys. she also likes to draw eyeballs and collars onto her hands to make her hands be dogs. it makes her feel better if she's lonely or nervous in public to be able to take her dog friends with her. she draws on her legs regularly - says it's her tattoos. i don't care. it washes off & isn't hurting anything. until recently, i've always said no when she asked if she could color on her face. i don't really know why since if i'm going to go with the rule of "if it's washable & not hurting anything, then i should say yes" then this would qualify for a yes as well. so a couple days ago, i surprised her by telling her to go ahead, get to coloring. her face lit up like it was christmas morning & she dashed for the marker box. she got a little mirror & set it up below the computer monitor so she could google pictures of various animals & then look into the mirror & draw the face onto herself. none of them lasted long because she always quickly thought of something else even better to color onto herself. but she was so happy! she was grinning from kitty ear, to kitty ear.

i can't give brooke everything i'd like to in life. i can't sign her up for cool activities or take her on fabulous outings very often. i can't give her kids to play with regularly, but one thing i CAN give her is permission. permission to fantasize about crazy schemes & then make them happen. permission to do the things other kids would get yelled at for doing. permission to get dirty & make messes & create memories.


  1. This is an awesome post! You are an awesome mother! My girls would love to visit!

  2. sometimes i get in trouble when other kids come over. one grandma was really mad that i let her grandson play in the dryer with brooke. like that was bad or something! it was turned off and i didn't leave it closed for long. =)

  3. You have so much fun with Brooke! You are a great mom. I have to admit there are several on this list that I wouldn't do. =0)

  4. I love you Sherilin! We also do not do
    Santa at our home...for exactly the reasons
    you mentioned, we want them to know that we work hard for what they have and to learn
    gratitude to mom and dad and family for all of that. Besides, I am have always felt it was such a mixed up message..DONT talk to strangers or take gifts from them, BUT let a fat man in your house in the middle of the night and he'll give you everything you wanted
    all year?! HUH!? WHAT??! NO WAY!
    Another thing we have done this past year was 3 gifts. Thats what baby Jesus got, and if its good enough for baby Jesus then its good enough for you! Hey, they bought it.

  5. ooo! i like the 3 gift rule! nice to hear we're not the only family who has dethroned santa. i also don't like the idea of telling brooke any lies. if i tell it to her, she needs to know it's always going to be true. had to maintain that if you tell the kids the stuff's from santa & the easter bunny.


don't let me be the only one doing the talking around here. spill your guts!