I wasn't sure if I wanted to have kids. I admit that...its a huge responsibility and i wasn't sure i was up for it. n the end, I cold not imagine life without knowing what it was like to be pregnant, have a baby, and raise them. I can say that now that the kids are both in college, it was quite a positive experience for me, and I would not change a thing. It was not all easy! Especially the early days. My youngest gave me a run for my money. He was too smart for his own good, and I wasn't prepared to handle this. My oldest, J, also very smart but he was more of the quiet type. K, on the other hand, was stubborn, strong-willed, and had a temper! He had the craziest episodes where he would kick and scream and I thought he had something wrong with his brain.
On time, he was going to crazy that I had to lock him in his room. He was about 3, and was wearing his favorite cowboy boots. He proceeded to kick the back of the door...and left black marks everywhere. When he calmed down, I handed him a sponge and told him to clean it up, which he did, and with a smile. A few days later, he had another "FIT". This time, he went into his room by himself, He closed the door, and started kicking it again! After a minute or so, he stopped...came out of his room, and asked me for a sponge. That was K.
J, on the other hand, was much more of an introvert. When he was around 12, he got hurt playing football with the neighborhood kids. He curled up in a ball and laid on the ground. He refused to talk. The kids came and got me, and even i was unable to get a word out of him. He just clammed up. I could tell he had hurt his shoulder, but I didn't know how badly, so someone called an ambulance and off we went to the hospital. Turns out, it was nothing but a sprain...and eventually he started talking again.
A few years later, he was playing basketball and got elbowed in the nose. He kept playing...and when he finished the game, his nose was crooked! We got that taken care of, with a minor surgery, but we cold see that he had grown up some, since the last injury!
There are many many stories like these, which I will add to later or maybe just write them to the kids. For purposes of this blog, I just wanted to share a couple of things.
My main reason for even bringing this topic up is to share some wisdom about raising children. Here's my top 5 tips.
1. Help them become independent at a young age
Once we realized J could hold the bottle by himself, we let him. He reached for it...and held it in his hands.
When K was 3, he could open the refrigerator by himself. So, we'd put a sip cup filled with milk on the bottom shelf so when he woke up in the morning, he grabbed his cup, then came to our bed to cuddle. I taught both kids how to do laundry as soon as they were tall enough to reach the buttons. I can't say that they folded the laundry after washing it, but they did have a "clean" and "dirty" basket! They also started making their own lunches around 4th grade. Now that they're in college, they are both independent...which was my goal. But, I sometimes wonder if I went too far. Maybe i should have done more for them when they were at home...who knows.
2. Interview each child on their birthday. Ask them their age, best friend, favorite foods, toys, and activities. Take photos of their room, favorite outfit, favorite book. If they're too young to speak, speak for them.
3. If you can afford it, send your kids to Montessori school, at least until they are 5. Both my kids went and they thrived!
4. Dissect snakes and goldfish and anything else your kids bring home!
When K was 8 or 9, he rushed through the door after school, grabbed my hand, and dragged me up the street, where there was a freshly-killed snake! "Mom, can we bring it home and dissect it?" I did not hesitate for a moment! We went back home for some rubber gloves, newspaper, and a bag. We gathered the snake and after printing a digram of the insides of a snake, found the exacto knife, and opened him up. It was a day I'll never forget.
5. Expose them to nature
We went on many hikes, camping trips, and outdoor excursions when the kids were little. K loved all of it! He was connected to nature from an early age. J wasn't as keen on it once he was around 10...he preferred to stay inside and work on his computer. Now, he's a software engineer at one of the biggest tech companies in the world, so I guess it's good that we let him follow his path. K ended up being a long-distance runner and a Boy Scout, two activities that allow him a lot of time in the outdoors.
Kids are really a crap shoot. I trusted my kids to do the right thing, gave them a lot of leeway especially when they were teenagers, b/c I felt they had good judgement. So far so good..