Saturday, October 5, 2013

My parenting priorities

Thanks to Uncle Trey for yet another great picture.
My parenting priorities don't align with everybody else's.  Obviously this can be said of anybody's parenting priorities.  But I think some of mine are a bit surprising.

For instance, I'm not all that concerned with Maybelle's neatness in eating.  At school the early interventionist and her teachers are working on--among loads of other great things--encouraging Maybelle to take small bites of her Nutrigrain bars and to chew and swallow them before taking another bite.  I get that this is a good goal.  Nobody wants to see a kid whose mouth is so full of Nutrigrain bar that squished up bits are emerging while she chews, right?  Nobody wants that.

Except I don't care.

Even my mom says I'm way more of a slob than she ever was, and I agree:  when Maybelle eats her O's and milk and milk runs down her chin, I do occasionally ask her to wipe it off, but it's not that big a deal to me.  Milk on the chin?  Whatever.  Let's clean up a bit before we go out in the world, but we don't have to clean up that much.  Right now she's sitting on the couch after having eaten two bowls of O's and milk, and I didn't even ask her to wipe her chin before she headed over there.

But she'll get milk on the couch!  Yeah, probably.  I just don't care that much.  If she were to pour a glass of milk on the couch, I would be really irritated.  If she were to pee on the couch, I'd recognize that I'd failed in parenting responsibly.  But a little bit of chin-milk?  Eh.  I do try to get her to wash her hands pretty quickly after she's finished a serving of waffles, but I don't always do a thorough job.  When Larry packed 1/3 of the entire house for the move, he commented--very nicely--that there seemed to be a little bit of syrup on almost everything.

Let's talk about how much cleanliness matters to me.  When's the last time I washed my hair?  Ummmm...probably last Saturday.  That would be a week ago.  I might wash it today, or I might wait until tomorrow (we'll see how things unfold in the day).  Maybelle gets a bath every single day, so that's something!  But I allow myself to be pretty cruddy.

Note:  Stickiness along with reading.
My priorities are different.  I've really wanted to Maybelle to be able to communicate as early as possible, so Walter and I worked hard on sign language, then singing, reading, and speaking.  She talks up a storm now, although it's often hard to understand her, so I'm working on that element of communication.

Her reading is fantastic, and that's a priority for me every single day.  She has a big dry erase board that lives beside her place at the table, and I write what her plans are for the day, and then at the end of the day what happened.  She reads those messages.  Reads them.  And then talks about them.  For instance, several times this morning she's repeated the names of the folks she's going to see.  She understands what she's reading.

And reading is helping her to speak more effectively.  She's been referring to "Mama's 'puter" for some time now.  I think that's pretty damn cute, but by writing the word "computer" on the board and pointing to the different components, I'm helping her to say "computer" in a more standard way.

This now makes me want to go off on a tangent about how arbitrary "standard" and "normal" are, and how unimportant I think they should be.  But I guess that's a bit of what I'm saying here:  the general notion of "standard" does very little for me.  There are things that matter to me, and that are fun to me, so that's what I'm focusing on with Maybelle.  Helping her learn to wash her hands?  Whatever.  Sitting on the couch and reading a book with her again and again?  A fabulous time!

So she'll be a person in the world who tells dynamic--and challenging to understand--stories, who sings lengthy songs from musicals, and who reads books on her own.  Honestly, a person not unlike many of my colleagues and best friends.


  1. We're working on 'standard' speaking with Brianna, too, who has significant speech delays. I don't think of it as trying to force her to be less of who she is, but a way of overcoming a barrier for her: she gets frustrated when she wants to tell people things and they can't understand her. Learning to pronounce things in a 'standard' way helps her communicate the way she wants to, which in turn encourages her to share even more of her thoughts and feelings about the world. It's a wonderfully positive snowball.

    I'm sure this comes as no surprise, but I think you're doing a fantastic job with your priorities for parenting.

  2. Wow, I SO get this. I am an entirely different parent than the parent I planned to be.
    My priorities shifted in a heartbeat.
    and I think we're all alright with that. :)

  3. Maybelle is so blessed to have such an incredible mom like you! :D