Friday, July 27, 2018

Kids Need Independence And With It Comes The Freedom To Do Stupid Things

My parenting style is like this: a keep a watchful eye and an ear on what the kids do from a distance. I can jump in when needed, but I let them play on their own, come up with games and activities on their own, and listen in on their conversations when they think I'm not. For the most part, I can keep track of big issues or pin point anything I think might become an issue at some point. However, I also know the importance of letting kids have independence and I give it to them freely unless they do something to lose their privileges. 

All summer long the school age kids have been able to play in the backyard by themselves. I have the windows open so I can hear them and I periodically check in to make sure everything happening is appropriate (I mean, to be perfectly honest, at the beginning of the summer we had some issues with random butt flashings, but....well, boys). Imagine my surprise when this took place one seemingly great day:

Child, timidly coming inside: Um, Ash.
Me: Yes?
Child: Can we set the red chair on the deck? And can you wash it?
Me: Sure...why?
Child: Because it has pee on it.
Me: What??
Child #2: Elizabeth peed on it.
Me: What???

At this point I quickly walked outside to see the kids nicely playing. I call them over to me.

Me: Elizabeth, did you pee on the chair.
Elizabeth: Not on purpose!
Me: But you did pee on the chair?
Child: Not on purpose. She peed in the grass but needed the chair so she didn't fall over. 
Child #2: Yeah, some just got on the seat a little bit because how she was leaning on it.
Me: shakes my head as I hose off the chair and set it aside to dry in the sun.
Child #3: Do you need the leaf too?
Me: Huh?
Child #4: She wiped with a pile of leaves.
Child #5: Do we need to clean those off too? Because we don't know where they went.

At this point I'm thinking "how did I miss her peeing in the yard? And why are the kids so nonchalant about this?!!??" Later that evening I pulled Elizabeth aside and asked for further detail about peeing in the yard. A summary of this conversation:

She didn't want to come in to pee so she went in the yard. She used the chair to squat so she wouldn't get pee on her, but misjudged and was sitting too much on the chair. That's how the pee ended up on the chair. She used a nearby leaf on a bush to wipe with. Then she threw the leaf, came in and changed her underwear because she misjudged more than just her squat, and went back outside to play. Also, the leaves were not poison ivy "so that's good."

I honestly didn't know what to say, but I did do a FYI to all parents just in case someone decided to share the story of Elizabeth peeing in front of everyone in the yard. I instantly felt like I wasn't watching the kids, my kids, close enough. That's my job to notice things and this went completely over my head! I kind of shook it off and went to bed, noting that kids do stupid crap all of the time. It happens.

Then the next day as I was informing a parent of the yard peeing incident, another kid piped up:

"She's been peeing in the yard all summer. This was the first time she got it on the chair....and wiped with a leaf. She hasn't done that before."

Wait. What. The. Hell.

She's been peeing in the yard ALL SUMMER and upon further questioning, some of these pee incidents have happened when I have been outside doing activities with the kids. In other words, she did it right in front of me (and two daycare assistants) and I didn't pick up on it! It wasn't until pee got on their favorite red chair that I was clued in to what was going on. 

If I want to be gentle on myself, parents miss things all of the time. I remember some of the stupid crap I pulled as a kid. Isn't it like a childhood rite of passage to do said stupid things during their moments of independence?? What I'm really thinking is HOW IN THE HELL DID I NOT SEE SOMETHING LIKE THIS? What else are they doing that I'm missing??

This happened last week and I'm still *face palming* about it. I know it's only peeing in the yard, but a part of me is left wonder, what's coming next?