Saturday, February 24, 2007

Who Likes Their Kids?

So, our playgroup on Tuesday fell through. In a stroke of inspiration, I called our neighbor to see if she'd like to get together (she's a teacher, so the inspiration was of me remembering that it was school vacation week). She returned my phone call when her kids were napping, and the first thing out of her mouth was, "Oh, Rachel, I don't know how you handle being with your kids all day! I'm going crazy!" Um. Remember, it was only Tuesday, too. And then she tells me that she's going away with her husband that night and won't be back until Friday. So basically she couldn't handle being with her kids for four straight days, even when she was going to be away for the next three. Wow. I tried to be friendly and not sound too shocked, so we were chuckling over how high energy kids can be. She said that most days when she has the kids, she can't even handle getting them dressed. I (untruthfully) said that we had days like that, and that then there were days like we were in the middle of, when the boys spend most of the morning naked. She sounded mildly shocked, so I explained that we had been painting and it's just easier to take their clothes off before they start. She responded with, "My God, you do, like.. crafts with them!?" Right. No, I spend 7 full days a week with my kids and I never do any planned, structured, or creative activities with them. And she's a kindergarten teacher, too! Later in the conversation, I asked when her kids might be up from the nap, so we could meet up outside, and she said she had no idea, that maybe she should ask the daycare staff sometime.

The concept of not knowing basic things about your kids seems so foreign to me. And the idea of not actually wanting to spend time with them is just horrible. I mean, why have kids then? Now, don't get me wrong.. there are plenty of times when I need a break, too, and there can definitely be extenuating circumstances (like a husband who's never home--though her husband is often home before she is). But the vast majority of the time, I want to be around my kids. Sure, the diaper changing isn't usually fun, and breaking up a dozen fights a day can be tedious, but that only accounts for a tiny fraction of my day. I love taking the kids out to do fun stuff. I love being able to go where we want, when we want. I love doing puzzles with Colwyn and tickling Lachlann. I love piling into my bed to read books, even if they spend most of the time looking out the window. I love getting the kids ready for naptime, reading Colwyn a book in his bed, and lying down with Lachlann while he drifts off to sleep. I love that haze they're in just after they wake up from a nap, when they sit on my lap for ten minutes and just stare off into space. I love the way their hair is sweaty from being under the covers. I love watching Colwyn and Lachlann entertain each other at the dinner table. I love being their go-to person, the person who knows all the important stuff about them. Who wouldn't want to be there for all of that with their kids?

I guess that's why we're homeschooling, and our neighbor isn't. :)



At 6:19 PM, Blogger Jen said...

thats kind of sad.
Though there are days that the kids drive me bonkers but its b/c they can't play outside, they are bored and need to get out. The days that I actually have a plan for them are great. Not letting them watch tv is usually key. I don't know what it is about TV but it makes them completely off the wall. We usually do crafts, guided learning activities or pretend play all day. They are very happy and well behaved. I think the kids get whiney when they are bored.
*second read of your post* damn she is a kindergarten teacher? She should know children involved in crafts or guided play are happy children.

At 11:35 AM, Blogger Rachel said...

I agree, it's very sad when parents as a rule don't want to be around their kids. Obviously everyone needs a break now and then, especially if you stay at home.. but for a mom who works a full-time job out of the house not to want to spend a few extra days with her kids.. blech.

She's the same woman who didn't bother breastfeeding her second baby, because her first wanted to eat all the time. Right.. newborns are supposed to eat every two hours, what's the problem? It frustrated me so much because of all the problems we had, and I would have loved for my only problem to have been that my kid wanted to eat every 2 hours.

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Shannon said...

I used to be very judgmental of parents who didn't want to be "bothered" with their kids. I was very good at engaging my son and I gave up everything to be "everything" for him. Now I have an 8 yo and a 2 yo and things are different. It's very difficult to keep both of them engaged (with the age difference) and, frankly, I'm physically and emotionally spent. This life that we choose as homeschoolers does take a toll on some moms after awhile. I'm just starting to realize that maybe I'll be a much better mother/teacher if I take a little more time *away* from my kids to care for myself.

That said, your neighbor sounds like a very needy woman! I certainly don't share her feelings, but these days I am more understanding of "those moms" who seem to want to be away from their kids more than with them.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Rachel said...

I think there's a big difference between being with your kids all day and needing a break, and being away from your kids all and still needing a break, that's all.

I'm not "on" with the kids all the time, so maybe that's why it's easier for me. My kids are very good at playing by themselves, so while I interact with them a lot, I'm not always having to entertain them.


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