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Katy England Katy England
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Glimpses of the future

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When you're hanging out with your little kids sometimes really little, sometimes older you get these flashes of insight into what they're going to be like in the distant or not so distant future. Sometimes it's a certain look they get. One that is so adult and clear that you are taken aback by it you can see before you the adult they are going to be, right before they spill their milk all over the dining room table.

Other times it's an attitude or a tone of voice that jet-propels you into exactly what you think the teenage years are going to be. Sometimes it's a casual dismissal of your foolish suggestion.

Me: Could you clear your stuff of the table?

Daughter: (not even looking at me as she dances away, using a calm sing-song voice) NoooOOooo.


You learn that you don't ask them to clear, you tell them to clear, but that's another story. You can picture scenarios where they are grown and you can see them reacting in the same way and having it almost be appropriate.

Which brings me to another point. I remember having a discussion with a mom who had grown children. She told me that it's hard to appreciate it now, but some of the behaviors you can't stand in a toddler are the kind of behaviors you want your grown children to have.

Let's look at some of them, shall we?

Accentuate the negative this one has to be in the top five of every parents' hair-pulling-out list. You make a request and are told in no uncertain terms, often with great attitude, 'No.' The contest of wills or, as my dad is fond of saying, being outfoxed by a 3-year-old.

Getting dressed God help you if you don't have stripes. One of my kids just loves them doesn't have a favorite color, but you're screwed if you want her to get out of the house and you're out of striped pants. Once I was able to compromise by having a striped fleece on hand. The only thing that will stand in for stripes is the 'truck shirt,' which she would wear pretty much every day if cleanliness standards weren't a thing.

Trying to get kids to eat food they don't like is enough to make me want to cry if I think about it too much.

The thing is, as my kids get older, I'm going to be around them less and less. Their ability to say 'no' in no uncertain terms isn't a bad thing. I think about when they get older, and people start asking them to do foolish or dangerous things I will be fervently hoping they say no. So wanting to stamp out all opposition isn't a good thing.

Fight for your right to fight 'No hitting' is a popular adage. We don't want our kids to be brutes and pick on people. But one thing I've learned herding three kids at the same time I don't want them to just take it if someone is getting physical with them. Often if someone hits, they had no real reason for it. No one deserved it, and someone will be taking some space.

But there have been times when someone, after telling a sibling to stop doing whatever mean thing they are doing, has smacked or pushed the offender in self-defense. And they don't go to time out, they are told they did a good job defending themselves and we go over other options. We talk to everyone about the importance of listening to each other and respecting each other's wishes. But ultimately, if someone is hurting you or someone else, it's OK to make them stop.

Talk to me, baby this one is hit or miss. One of my kids will quite literally talk non-stop, while another you have to coax out a syllable at a time with leading questions. So it's practice, but we do want to be able to communicate with the kids when they stop wanting to tell us everything that's going on in their lives. It's a good idea to start now.


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