Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is This About Me Or Them?

As mentioned before, I really want new crib bedding. It doesn't matter that I don't even know the gender of my unborn child, I still have been spending some time perusing my favorite "dream websites" (like pottery barn kids, restoration hardware baby and child, and land of nod), so that I can admire the rooms they've put together there, and promptly head to Target, TJMaxx, Ikea, and Home Goods to copy the same looks for less $.

While looking last night, I wandered away from the nurseries and headed over to the kids' playrooms. I saw these lovely scenes:

Ahh. Wouldn't we all love to sit in these rooms (which I'm sure smell like roses), listen to classical music, perhaps read a book or two, and admire our perfectly coifed, well-behaved children as they mildly played with one perfectly coordinated organic toy at a time? It sounds like a little piece of heaven.

It was at this point in my coveting that I needed a bathroom break and walked past my own playroom. I'll spare you (or maybe me) a picture. Let's just say the contrast was shocking. It looked like a hurricane had hit. Child number 1 and child number 2 as well as a neighbor friend had made short work of the room that I had organized just that morning and the only artwork on the wall was a non-commissioned mural done by my 2 year-old.

I enjoy a well-decorated home as much as the next person, sometimes even more, but as I headed back to look at these rooms, I got thinking:

Are these rooms that kids would love to play in, or are they rooms that their parents would like them to play (if you can call what those children are doing playing) in?

My bet is on the latter.

My kids love the playroom. They love their bright Fisher Price toys. They love the Barbies, Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shops, and Princesses and all the tiny pieces that go with them. (I only have girls, obviously). It's me who hates them. Would I really want to deprive them of one of the joys of childhood just to have a beautifully coordinated room? No.

There will come a day when I will have the chance to reclaim all areas of my living space, but now is not that time. Now is the time to laugh at their antics, keep that room as organized as possible, and let them enjoy the only time in their life when they get to "play."

Then I got thinking are there other non-important areas of their lives that I make more about "me" and less about "them". I am as guilty as the next person on all of these:

1. Birthday parties. I've steered clear of child number 1's favorite colors of black and yellow for a number of years in favor of pink because, darn it, pink looked a heck of a lot cuter on a cupcake wrapper. And let's not talk about the themes I've talked her out of so that I could decorate the way I wanted to. Who's birthday is this anyway?

2. Clothing. My daughter oohs and ahhs over everything with a princess on it. She'd feel like the queen of the world if I ever let her wear character clothing in public. But I don't. I've compromised on pajamas, but even then, I roll my eyes.

3. Hair. My daughter's don't care about their hair one bit. In many instances they would rather I didn't do their hair. But I do. Every day. Is it that I really care that their hair gets done or is it that I don't want others to think that I don't take care of my kids?

4. Books. This one is going to make me sound like a huge snob, but at our nightly reading time, I try to get them to read books by "quality" authors and illustrators over the ones that came with a doll or were an animated movie before they were ever a book. Most of the books I persuade them to read are ones with a bit of adult humor in them too. Again, is story time about me or them?

Of course there are things that I don't think you should let your kids do even if they want to. Like eat candy and french fries all day long or swim in shark infested waters or watch obscene T.V. You still have to parent. But this revelation has given me a new goal. I'm going to try harder to make things that are about them actually be about them. After all, they are kids, not little adults.


  1. I too hate character clothing and only allow it in our home in the form of PJ's and undies. I figure that even though they want that "Toy Story" T-shirt now, they will be thanking me later for refusing it for them.

  2. What's worse than kid's character clothing? Adult character clothing. Yep, I've seen grown women in Winnie the Pooh shirts far too often; usually in Wal-Mart.

  3. You just answered my question about whether to invest time and effort into Nols's room. Thanks! I have been chastened and shall throw all my efforts into the piano nook that is crying out for a personality. It's a fine line, always. You must have your home be your home, and your life be your life, but, you can't have robo kids either.