All By Myself

I'm a type "A" personality by nature. I like things done on time and just so. Like many traits (and other things) this isn't all bad. There's a time and a place for it. Obviously having kids has made this trait more noticeable.  And kids and perfectionism are a bad mix.

Erica has been a good example of being more hands off. With two sets of twins 18 months apart, she just cannot do everything for everybody and I've often been impressed with how much her kids can and will do for themselves.  It has really opened my eyes to the fact that my boys are capable of so much more...if I'll just get out of their way and let them learn.

Which leads me to today. I took all 5 kids to a kid's craft class at Michael's craft store. All the other parents there had just 2 kids. They sat right next to them and did the craft with/for them. I knew I couldn't do that and I had no desire to do it, either! What is the point of paying for crafts for 5 kids and then doing it all myself? I bounced around from kid to kid giving encouragement, and direction, and helping when needed, but I stayed as hands-off as possible and let the kids do it themselves. Especially Luke.

Not so with the other parents, which was frustrating because obviously the kids working alone cannot work as fast as the kids whose parents are doing 50% or more of the craft for their kids. So I felt we were holding the class back in that regard. In addition, I felt like it made the kids more particular about how their craft turned out. One mom was exclaiming about how the fish template wasn't exactly symmetrical so that when you cut 2 fish out of the same pattern and tried to put them together, back to back, they weren't exact. Insert eyeroll here. The teacher pointed out that the fish could simply be trimmed slightly after they were adhered to each other. But the damage was done and each kid had to waste time trimming each set of fish.

Tiza began crying when she overtrimmed one set of fish. I calmly told her that she was doing just fine. That her project didn't need to be perfect. She could take pride in the fact that she'd done the best she could and that her fish would look unique and that's okay because real fish aren't cookie cutter versions of other fish. She calmed down and moved on.

Gabe complained that his hand was hurting from all the cutting. I helped him with some, but told him he'd be okay and to power through it a bit. He was so close to being done. He stopped complaining and finished up.

Ali didn't do the craft at all. I broke down and offered to cut out the template fish if she would do the rest. She refused. I felt badly, but it was her decision and, again, I was not going to do the craft for her because that's just ridiculous. They packed it up for her and she was able to take it home. It's a good lesson to learn that being grumpy and stubborn makes us lose out on experiences and only hurts ourselves.

If it sounds like I'm being harsh toward the other parents, please know that watching these people was like watching myself. I know I'm usually no better. It's easy to over-parent when you have just two kids. But in the long run it's the kids who miss out. They don't learn patience or perverseness. They don't get the satisfaction of knowing they did something on their own and to the best of their abilities. And those are much-needed lessons!

[caption id="attachment_2116" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Finished Finished[/caption]


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