Friday, March 03, 2006

On Kids

I was reading this post from Julie at A Little Pregnant, and it got me to thinking about how I interact with children - both in the family and with friend's children. (Other's people children are cute, cuz what kid isn't cute, but I don't interact with them.)

I grew up in a large extended family. Mom had a brother and 3 sisters, and between them they had 8 kids, plus a couple add ons (step child, foster children). I couldn't even tell you how many kids my cousins have added to the family - see the Bravenet calendar link if you really want to count us all. Last I remember, there's over 30 of us so far.

I am the oldest grandchild, and one of the few that doesn't have children of my own now. But the thing about our family has always been whoever was there kept an eye on the kid. I've been "disciplined" by every adult member of my family, and I have "disciplined" just about every one of my cousins and their children. By discipline, I mean "Don't do that, it's dangerous" or "Don't beat your brother over the head with that toy" or "That's not very nice, say you're sorry".

Chris and I have had discussions recently about children and how their parents allow them to behave. I'm not talking about tantrums - while irritating to have to listen to, that's standard kid stuff whether you think your kids are going to do it or not. I'm talking about parents who take their children places and then don't watch them, don't keep them out of things, until finally, in self defense you have to say, "Hey, I really don't think that your child should be throwing his body as hard as he can against the glass door to my stereo cabinet." I've actually had that happen to me. Do you want to know what the response was? Do you? "I let him do what he wants because I don't want to restrict his creativity" or some very similar shit. God forbid we restrict any creativity, we'll just hope that God keeps that glass from breaking and cutting off his head!

We have several friends with children, and Chris is constantly inviting them to come over to our NON CHILD-PROOFED HOUSE. We do not have kids, so we still have items on the coffee table and in the curio cabinet, and hell, just laying around everywhere. Sandie has mentioned being over at my house and having to keep a constant eye on Britt so that she doesn't get into anything (sorry Sandie). We have one other friend that watches her child when over. EVERYONE else, every single other person that has ever brought their children to my house, has let said child run around and grab whatever they want to. "Oh, sorry about that vase, I hope you didn't care for it since I'm not going to apologize or offer to pay for it or anything."

Back in the olden days of smaller villages or tribes - smaller groups of people living together - raising children was the responsibility of the entire tribe or village. That's the way I grew up, and the way I interact with the children in my life today. I would never spank someone else's child (and yes, I do believe in spanking a child - not beating them, but a punishing spank on the butt never "hurt" me, and it made sure that I was fairly well behaved, at least in public).

Children are curious, they like to explore and experience, and they have no concept of danger. They NEED discipline, and someone to watch out for them. That's why they have parents. Not just to love them and let them be creative, but to keep them safe and to learn how to get along in today's society, with other people.

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