You know this summer when it was so hot? I know, you’re trying to forget. I am too. It was too intense — a real killer. It felt like H-E-Double Hockey Sticks was relocating right here to the Midwest. The trees, the poor animals, everything was fried up extra crispy, and other than running up my water bill and trying to keep my personal property alive, there wasn’t a darned thing I could do.
“Isn’t there something they can do about this?” I wondered. I guess by “they,” I meant scientists, or maybe the government. But changing Mother Nature and forcing seasons is the stuff of mad science, right? Cloud seeding has cost bazillions of dollars and requires rockets and other high-tech equipment. And it’s not very effective.
The general understanding about weather is that we have to ride it out. Our climate has some predictability — a range of weather we can expect, a general timeframe to go by — but extremes are also part of Mother Nature’s prerogative, and to fight them is futile. Our best bet is to prepare, hunker down, and wait it out.
But when it comes to parenting, it all too easy to forget the whole “nature” aspect of human nature. Theoretically, we know that our kid has a climate, or a personality, which gives us a general idea of what they may or may not do. And we don’t assign the personality to the kid any more than we assign the climate to a geographical location. That’s God’s job.
We also know to expect some extremes. They go through seasons, then they experience intensity within their seasons. This summer, during the heat wave and drought, we had some intense, smoldering human extremes inside the house, too. My husband came home one night to find me sitting outside in the 106-degree temperature to “cool off.”
I thought the drought outside was never, ever going to end, and I felt like the behavior my kids were exhibiting was equally permanent. With the weather, well, I knew I was powerless over the heat. But for some reason, I felt like I could do something about the phase that my kids were in. I felt like I should be able to control their nature.
Ha! The notion that I could make my kids be good? That I had any power over nature? Bwa ha ha! (Igor, bring me my forceps, I’m working on an experiment.)
I look back, and these things I wanted to change, extremes of the seasons I never thought would end, just evaporated. Sure, it took some parenting along the way, but we came out on the other end. I see clearly now that it’s not because of anything we did as parents. It was just the natural end.
There have been quite a few stages we could have turned into battles. We’ve suffered criticism by some for treating them as seasons rather than disciplinary issues. But guess what, they ended. Here are some examples:
My son no longer picks up his food and throws it instead of eating it.
Both my kids sit in their own chairs, rather than on our laps, while they eat meals.
Both kids fall asleep in their own beds, then stay in their beds all night.
Neither kid walks around with a pacifier.
My kids can go an entire day without using the words “pee,” “poop,” or “diarrhea.”
They get up in the mornings and put on clothes without a fuss.
Both kids learned to read.
My son now drinks milk.
These all felt like such struggles, but after a while, they shook themselves out. The storms ended. And for now, we get to enjoy more temperate weather… until the next storm. But even then, no need for mad science.
Overland Park mom and 913 freelancer Emily Parnell blogs at mom2momkc.com.