Thursday, December 9, 2010

freedom: a fine line

Once Tommy was interested in touching everything he could and 99% of the things he couldn't see, I started to decide what was really not OK for him to be into and what really was OK.

Under the kitchen sink? Chemicals? Garbage? Not OK.

The poison-dirt from all the houseplants? In your dreams.

Pretty much everything else? OK.

Pots and pans and shiny utensils? Fine by me.

Dish clothes & hand towels? Go nuts.

Measuring cups & spoons? Ladels? Spatulas? Whatever does it for you dude.

Christmas tree? At $2/24 ornaments I'm OK if he eats them.

Phone chargers, DVDs, monitors, remotes, books, laundry and furniture? Sure, whatever.

But then Josh comes home.

I'm significantly less uptight than expected to be (is anyone else surprised by that? No? Just me? OK.) but now I'm wondering if I've gone too far. My child apparently thinks that anything he reach is a toy. And that's because at my house IT'S TRUE.

On the rare occasion that Josh is home and Tommy is still awake and playing, Josh keeps him out of everything. "No no no no Tommy. That's not a toy." He gently reminds him while he pulls him away. "Don't touch." He says trying to distract him with a genuine kid thing.

I tap Josh on the shoulder and in a very mousy voice say "Uhhh.....actually he thinks the measuring spoons are the best toy there is, and I've never ever taken the stack of DVDs away from him...."

I just figure if he can't hurt it or him with it, I'm not going to bother. Lazy parenting? Probably. But I like to think it's teaching him that he's allowed to explore his environment - as long as it's reasonably safe.

Josh, however, thinks that it's important to teach him the concept of "don't touch" and the sooner the better.

How much freedom do your kids have in your house? And what if you go somewhere else? Is it impossible to teach them not to touch everything in someone else's home if you don't teach them how not to touch in your own home?


  1. I am mostly with you on this. I am like that with my kids. When Naomi was little it was the same thing. Anything that was safe she can play with and will make a mess with. If done right you can use that to help teach him about cleaning up after himself too. I do think its important though to have some things that you keep off limits. Obviously not the chemicals, but something that you want to be off limits but wont' kill him if he gets into it. That way he can learn the limits. Like I didn't allow playing with the pots and pans, but the measuring cups were fine. That way they know they can explore but that some things are better left safe. So now in my house I am not afraid to have glass things because I know my kids know what is off limits. Oh and we also don't stand on the couches, ya know, reasonable limits to keep them safe, but mostly they have free reign because they live there just as much as you do! Good for you for being able to let go. Its really hard!

  2. Sounds like our house a year back!! I picked my battles- and I chose NOT to fight in a lot of them ;) ... Ryan was convinced we most show our authority in EVERY situation so he doesn't turn out to be "one of those kids". So Ryan would battle with him with everything. Things that really were NOT okay, I would tell him 'No' and distract him with something else. ... But now he only listens to me, and doesn't listen to anything Ryan says. Moral of the story? I'm not sure. But I'm sure it'll come soon.

  3. I'm here, which I wanted you to know since it's always comforting to know that people are watching your blog.

    But I have no answers to this. Adult books were off limits at our house until they were big enough to understand them and take nice care of them. If they "played" with the laundry, I always just figured that got them one step closer to actually HELPING with the laundry (wishful thinking,as it turns out).

    Sorry no answers from here, but Tiff makes a good point.

  4. i agree with tiff and carrie. at my house i try to childproof so that if there is something he shouldn't be getting into or touching it's not in a place he can get to it. my chemicals and glassware are all up high but my tupperware, pots and pans, and plasticware are down low. i don't see why tell them no to those things?? it's not like they are going to want to play with them their whole lives or anything- i mean it's not starting a bad habit or anything. but i don't let my boys jump on the couch, touch the christmas tree, etc.
    i'm with you.

  5. Isn't there a parenting law that you're supposed to say yes more than you say no? I think it was a "thou shalt" but I can't find it in the King James version. I think you and Josh get to decide together what things Tommy is allowed to play with and that it's important that you back each other up.

    And the other parenting law is that if you say something but don't follow through, your kids stop listening to your words. I just took the love and logic class and they said that over and over. Talk less. Talk less. Talk less. (I think they should only have said it once though... ;) ) So for me, I try to take her away from things that are dangerous or things that I really care that she doesn't break.

    And as I'm writing this, Lucy has just torn the case to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" so maybe we are those kids. Feel free to disregard this comment. p.s. I have the love and logic for toddlers book if you want to borrow it.

  6. I'm with you on this one. If I were to consistently keep him away from all the things that "aren't toys" I would wear myself out or be frustrated at having to lock everything up from him (which he gets into anyway). Greg's not with him all day to realize how weary it is to say "No". If you don't mind then it's a lot less stress on you, then everyone is happier.


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