So, I laughed a lot when I read the post, “Guilt by Association: When You’re a rule-following wife married to a rule-breaking renegade“. Because I am so bad at this behavior. Or maybe, I’m so good at it? I’m talking about Rule-following. And, I related to every single thing she worries about in breaking the rules. Every one.
Today was a classic example of how I just can’t let go of being a rule-follower. Kyle was getting ready for preschool and we were running around like usual trying to get dressed, remember to brush our teeth, (I frequently forget to brush mine while encouraging my kids to brush theirs) put shoes on the baby, grab my grocery list, etc. All of a sudden, we were ready. I looked at the clock and we had five minutes to spare. Score!
So, in my usual fashion, I thought to myself, “That can’t be right. What am I forgetting?”
Then I remembered. UUUGGGH. Dress up day at preschool. But, not just any old dress up day. It was, “dress as the person that you want to be when you grow up”. I secretly hate days like this. Like red sock day at my daughter’s school. I don’t have red socks!! OK??? Did I go and buy some for her? You betcha.
Anyway, so Kyle always says he wants to be a firefighter when he grows up. And, a couple of days ago, I tried to remind myself to ask a friend if they had a firefighter costume, or hat, or something, because surprisingly, we had none. WHAT? But, I forgot.
So, I decide, “Well, maybe he won’t say firefighter and we can come up with something else.” So, I remind him he is supposed to dress up and ask him, “So. What do you want to be buddy?” (Remember. The clock is ticking) He replies, “I know! A pirate!”
“Hmmm.” I respond. “Well, pirates aren’t really real.” It was the best I could come up with. He looks at me like, “Huh?” and I say, “I know!” in my most enthusiastic tone…”how about a doctor? You can take your doctor’s kit!?” Kyle is such a sweetie. He said, “OK”.
So, I try to think fast. He needs a white coat or scrubs or something. I grab a white short sleeved dress shirt of my husband’s. A toy stethoscope. And a nametag of my husband’s from PA school. Voila. I created a costume in about 2 minutes.
I thought it looked pretty dang good.
Kyle is staring at himself in the mirror for a minute and gets a sad look on his face.
Me: “What’s wrong?”
Kyle: “I just don’t want to be a doctor”.
Me: “OK. Then, just say you want to be like your daddy. You can say he’s a PA and he takes care of people’s hearts. How does that sound?”
So, proud of myself, I send my husband the above picture in a text message. He replies:
“Awesome! Did he not know that at that age being a superhero is a legitimate option too?”
He was joking of course. But, I immediately felt deflated. Why didn’t I just let him be the pirate? Why was I so concerned that he have on just the “right” thing? At this point though, we were already on our way to preschool. So, no going back.
But, then I analyzed this the whole way there and back. Why did I have to be such a rule follower? Was I damaging my kids by not giving them more freedom to be who they want to be? For one, he didn’t really have to dress up in the first place. It is preschool, after all. Second, what would have been the harm if he had shown up as a pirate? Maybe the kids would have giggled because it was a “silly” idea. But, most likely, they would have thought he looked cool and moved on with their 3 & 4 year old lives.
I always said (in my own head before I had kids) as a mother I would be the kind of mom that would let my teenager dye her hair purple if she wants. Or let my kid wear a costume out in public. Even when it wasn’t Halloween. But, here I am doing the exact opposite of that. Why? It’s because the little preschool calendar hanging in my kitchen said, “Dress up day. Who do you want to be when you grow up?” To me, that was a rule. And, it couldn’t be broken.
For me, I don’t want to project onto them my need to always have things be perfect. I want them to grow up free-spirited. Not afraid to be who they want to be. Not afraid to be different. I envied those kind of people growing up. Some part of me wanted to be the “weird girl” with the purple hair and mis-matched socks that didn’t give a damn, said whatever she wanted, and laughed off people laughing at her.
But, it was more important to me to be liked.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there has to be some boundaries. There has to be rules. I am after all, a Mormon. So, you know, we have lots of rules. But, I do want to let some things go that don’t really matter. Like if they wear a pirate costume to preschool. He did seem happy when I picked him up from school, but when we got home and I was getting him out of the car he said to me,
“I kinda don’t like being a doctor.” Point taken, kid. I did gather from him that there was one kid dressed as a librarian, and one as an alligator.
There is always another chance. There will be another dress up day at school. There will be another opportunity to get it right. So, I’m not going to dwell. But, I’m thankful for the lesson, anyway. That’s what motherhood is about to me. Figuring out life as you go and hoping you don’t screw your kids up too much in the process.
And, in other news, I had this conversation with Kyle a couple of days ago:
K: “There is a girl at school named Isabel. And I love her.”
M: Trying to hold back the shock and surprise, “Why do you love her?”
K: “Because I like the color of her hair”
M: “What color is it?”
So, I guess he has a thing for blondes. Typical man. 🙂
And, here’s a fun game. Find the child in this picture.
I would have been flustered and just told my kid to dress as himself and when people ask what he wants to be when he grows up, to say “myself.” hahaha, look at my quick thinking when it’s not even needed!
but I had a similar panic when around New Year’s the baby daycare had “fancy day” for the babies and then valentine’s day garb in February, but fortunately my kiddo didn’t have to go either of those days…
hmmmm…why didn’t I think of that? 🙂 And what the heck is fancy day?!!
hahah! Why didn’t I think of that? And what the heck is “fancy day?”
I know, right? Fancy day is just another way of saying: we don’t want your kid to come to daycare in spitup pajamas, so put him in a suit (or at least that’s how I read it). I think because it was right after New Year’s the older kids were having a party where they dressed up and looked nice all day (which sounds like a nightmare for little boys…though, as a girly girl child I would have LOVED an excuse to dress like “princess” at school all day).
yes, for girls that seems much easier to get “fancy!”
Love the “find the child”! And the blonde thing.
I battle with rules, too, mainly because I want to make sure my kids follow MY rules! I don’t want to have confused them with breaking rules elsewhere. It’s a definite battle.
for sure. How do you know when it’s OK to teach them it’s OK to break the rules. I’m sure it only gets harder as they get older.
Such a great post….we should each write another one too about Overthinking…..it sounds like we’re both excellent at that too:) I thought he looked great!! You’re a good mama. Thanks so much for mentioning me in your blog today:)
I’m glad my daughter didn’t have dress up as what you want to be day at school….when she was 5 she wanted to grow up to be a sheep!
The Water Bearer says
Nice to meet you.. I am a rule-following Mum too.. From one to another, all we can do is our best, and apologise when we know we could have done things a little better. If we keep trying, and depend on God’s strength rather than our own, then He gets the credit if the kids turn out ok, not us…Just the way He likes it 😉
Such an awesome post! I also get hung up on the rules! Sometimes I wish I could be one of those “go with the flow” moms. The kind that watch their kid squish ice cream into their hair and just laugh.
Paige (Your favorite sister) says
You mention a girl with purple hair more than once. This means you wish you could be me.
I always have. 🙂
Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. says
I am SO glad you shared this with me- clearly, I relate! 😛 Thanks for making me feel less alone! xoxo