Do you ever feel like you; re constantly telling your kid what to do

do you ever feel like you re constantly telling your kid what to do Birth

I’ve noticed that as a parent I’m often telling Joshi what to do, what not to do, where to go, what to look at, etc. Yes, I know he learns a lot this way and that it’s necessary for us to teach and direct our kids, but at what point does the balance get lost? I’ve been reflecting on how often I’m actually being helpful and how often I’m just plain bossy and controlling. I’ve been thinking about how much freedom I give him to make his own decisions, like when we’re out and about, and about how often I let him move at his own pace instead of mine.

So for our walk this morning, I thought we’d do things differently. Instead of being the parent who decides where we’re going and then doing everything I can to coerce Joshi in that direction as fast as is toddler-possible, I let him take me for a walk. I let him choose our direction at each turn and gave him as much time as he needed to do whatever he wanted along the way, no matter how mundane the activity.

I’ve noticed that my personal tendency (as a mum on a walk with her toddler) is to distract Joshi towards something which I think is more interesting, more fun or more aesthetically pleasing than whatever he’s up to. If there are pretty flowers or a beautiful water feature, for example, I’ll often point them out to him and lead him in that direction, away from what he was quite happy doing. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but kids get bossed around, redirected and distracted so much. I often put myself in Joshi’s shoes to help me understand how he might feel about something. I know that if I was to be constantly told what to do I’d find it really suffocating. So today I decided to really give him some space, to be his own person and make his own choices, no matter how small. If he wanted to spend two hours playing with the same stick under the same tree during our walk, then so be it.

It turned out to be a morning of conscious mindfulness for me. When I felt the urge to say, “Come on Joshi, let’s go this way, or “Let’s do this,” I kept the words inside me and let them dissolve. What then unfolded was a lovely morning of being, just being in each moment.

Along the way Joshi got to spend as much time as he liked dancing around the rhino …

He got to take his time offering his apple to the ‘big man’ (who, strangely enough, declined) …

He got to play with the stones …

He got to stare into space for as long as he liked …

He got to splash in the fountain for as long as he wanted to …

And to throw the leaves off the stairs …

He cuddled one of the pillars, then the other five …

Suddenly it started to rain, hard. I said, “Joshi, do you want to run in the rain?” His whole face lit up. I closed the umbrella and we ran and ran and ran across the grass in the pouring rain. By this time I’d stopped taking pictures; we were having too much. We were soaked … and happy.

I’m so used to doing things that are purposeful or meaningful to me. When I’m out with Joshi on a walk I have to consciously allow myself to drop that way of being and to surrender to the moment, no matter how mundane it may seem. After all, it may be mundane to me, but it’s not to him. I’ve also noticed how fulfilling it is to be fully present and accepting of the moment. If you really allow yourself to be in the present with your kid, no matter how mundane it may seem, that moment can transform into something truly special.

On the way home we went up and back down the escalator three times, then up and down the stairs twice. Finally we went up and down the next set of stairs three times. We’ve done that sort of thing before, but not to this extent. I’ve noticed that living in a big city it’s easy to always be in a hurry, even when you really aren’t. And as an adult it’s easy to get stuck in doing things a certain way… like only going down the stairs once with your kid because you don’t see any sense in repeating it. It wasn’t the most awesome thing I’ve ever done, but it I was great. It was great to just be with it and to feel content despite the ordinariness of it.

So thank you Joshi, for a wonderful walk. I feel that it was a liberating and fun experience for both of us.

When we got home, all mucky and wet, Joshi sat down on my lap. I said, “Joshi, close your eyes and look inside your heart. What do you see?” “Rainbows,” he whispered.

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