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Katy England Katy England
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edge staff writer


Balancing acts

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There is a fine line between everything about raising kids. Between letting them learn on their own and making sure they aren't going to kill themselves. Between tough love and really not-so-tough love. Between the desire to have some free time and knowing that if you leave them alone something will probably get broken, drawn on or eaten.

It's hard because there are no rules. Sure, you can go on the internet and be told various different ways to balance taking the hard line with hugs and kisses (and to be clear, my hard line involves timeouts and ignoring rude behavior).

Three kids make for an odd dynamic, and I'm recently learning, since only one is getting Head Start services, that when you remove one kid from the mix things get dramatically easier. What's weird is that it doesn't seem to matter which one. Sure, my daughter is going to Head Start, so she's gone the most and the other two can have what passes for a civilized conversation around the dining room table. But there have been times when my boy had a late nap and the girls were downstairs by themselves, charming as could be sharing toys, being sweetness and light to each other.

But you add that third one in and suddenly all of the buttons are being pushed, all of the yelling is happening, and all my timeout spots are taken.

My littlest child is a sensitive child. Her buttons are bright, and her sister likes to push them. Hugs will calm her down, but we also want her to be able to calm herself down (and also don't want her to revert to full-on baby-mode, which she sometimes will if you overdo it. I mean, who doesn't want to be carried everywhere, right? If I could get carried places, I'd do it. Especially these days).

And it's hard, because Ilovegetting hugs from the kids. Even angry hugs. There's just something nice about being able to calm the raging beast that is satisfying. But it's a trap. You really, really, really don't want to be the only thing that calms them down. Because then you can't do other things, like go to the bathroom, eat a meal or sit down for two minutes if someone is fighting.

So you have to balance. I've been trying to get her to calm downbeforeshe gets the hugs. And slowly, it's been working.

I have hopes that maybe she'll start reacting a little less to her sister pushing her buttons. Well, I can dream, can't I?

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