Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Ninja Suits and the Battle for Control

It’s hard to over-emphasize just how little control a child has over his or her own life. 

Think about it. 

For the first 18 years of your life, maybe a bit less, very few of your choices belong to you. Adults name you. Adults decide where you’ll live. Adults decide where you’ll go to school. Adults decide where you’ll go for vacation, or if you will. Adults decide if or when you’ll go to the doctor or dentist. 

And on and on. And this big chunk of your life--the one that is so monumental and lasts so long--is, sadly and ironically, the chunk you can least control.

I try to be mindful of this when “picking battles” with my kids, specifically how important it is to give them some feeling of control over stuff that doesn’t really matter, so they can more readily accept that they have no control over the stuff that does.

Every parent has lines in the sand, but of course they’re not all the same. This December, I will have been a mom for ten years. Here are the battles—so far—that I’ve decided to pick and not pick. "Yes" indicates a battle I always pick. "No" indicates a battle I refuse to have.

Food: No.
Homework: Yes.
Reading: Yes.
Being polite: Yes.
Regular bedtime: Yes.
Screen time: Yes.
Ear piercings: No.
Hair styles: No.
Ninja suit for picture day: No.
Dressing up for weddings: Yes.
Clothes in general: No.
Exposed anus on couch or chair: Yes.
Getting really muddy: No.
Making a big mess: No.
Cleaning it up: Yes.
Jump ropes near neck/other asphyxiation risks: Yes.
Gun safety: Yes.
Seatbelts and car seats: Yes.
Ski helmets/bike helmets: Yes.
Brushing teeth:
Jumping on furniture: No.

Isaac decided to wear his “Ninja suit”—which is really just black long underwear—to picture day for the third time in a row this year. Consistent with my above battle-plan, I wasn’t about to deprive him of what little control he has in life and say no. I’ll save that for the inevitable moment that he wants to do something stupid and dangerous, as opposed to just aesthetically unorthodox and vaguely regrettable for that reason alone.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I had been so wise. Re ear pearcings. A friend told me she got her ears pierced when she was 3. Her parents said she was too young but they changed their minds when she tried to do it herself with an ice pick. That says something about our age that an ice picture was a readily available kitchen tool.


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