Yes, this is the title of a great book about parenting in a world where entitlement and competition abound and the values of our culture are at odds with what we wish to uphold and instill. Instead of anxious overparenting, the book points the way to raising self-reliant, grateful, optimistic children and interestingly (to me) is based on Jewish teachings. But this post isn’t really about the book. It’s about how I couldn’t get the phrase out of my head this past weekend.
When CSP and I were getting ready for our move from NC to MA we had lots of concerns which ran the gambit from house prices, New England weather, school systems, commute time, how moving will affect the kids and so forth.
One of the biggest things we worried about was neighborhood. Before we left MA for NC 3 years ago we had lived in Framingham for 5 years. We did not know our neighbors there. We barely even waved to them. Our yard was not fenced in and we never hung out out side or in our neighborhood. We “went” to the playground or to museums or playdates.
In NC we were in a great neighborhood, lots of kids, we knew most of our neighbors and as the kids were getting older they began running around outside a bit more.
When CSP moved to Boston in March, I was home alone with the kids for two months. So after school and whatever activity we had planned, I basically needed them out of my hair while I made dinner.
It is surprising to me how annoying it is to have kids nudnicking you while you are trying as fast as you can to get some food on the table. “Mommy I’m hungry. Can I have a snack? Can I have some of that? Can I mix? What is that? It looks disgusting. Is it ready yet? How about now? But I’m hungry now. Is it ready now? No I can’t wait 5 minutes. Mommy can you get me some water? Mommy he’s not sharing.”
Ah yes, the witching hour, when everyone is hungry and tired and snippy (yes grown-ups too) and when you want to just scream “Stop mommy-ing me!”
So instead I told them to go outside and not leave the yard. CSP and TA had put in a slide and swing over the holidays and remarkable it worked out pretty well.
So when we started house hunting we really wanted a neighborhood we could trick or treat in and where the kids could play outside with other kids. When we finally decided on Swampscott on the North Shore, we found a house with a fenced in yard, a play set being left by the previous owners, 1 block from the green with swings and 2 blocks from the elementary school. We were pretty psyched with the location and the fact that there were kids in the neighborhood and that we had seen them playing outside and roaming around a bit.
The boys began making friends and playing outside, but the biggest moment for me was when Quinn and Max decided they wanted to learn how to ride their scooters, because the other boys did. It took a weekend in CT at CSP’s mom’s house and some bribery involving hotwheels cars and some amazon bucks, but they finally did it!
Both Quinn and Max had been refusing to ride their bikes or try their scooters or even put on the heelys a second time after begging shamelessly for them. I had begun to despair that they would ever be willing to stretch themselves, but in this instance I was happy for the ambient peer pressure which got them motivated.
Within a week they were tearing up and down our street, taking jumps, hopping cracks and demanding to ride their scooters to school. And this last weekend Quinn demanded to be taught how to ride his bike. It literally took two tries and off he went wibbling and wobbling his way down the street and back.
They both have fallen down and gotten back up. Max is covered in Band-Aids, and when CSP and I arrive home from work they beg to be allowed to stay outside just a little bit longer. They come home from school, do their homework, eat a snack and then go outside to play with the other kids, ride their scooters and bikes, and yesterday? Quinn came tearing around the corner and took his feet off the peddles, showing off his “tricks”. Max came tearing along behind him and ollied about a foot off the ground on his scooter and cut a super sharp turn so he could “get sparks” when the metal ground the pavement.
Last Sunday we walked and the boys scooted 2 blocks to our local insanely expensive tourist trap clam shack, got some ice cream and then walked/scooted home for sunset.
I am so grateful for how much better this neighborhood is turning out than we could even have imagined and when I find bloody towels around the house and Max explains to me that Laura didn’t hear him, but Quinn helped him and cleaned up his knees and took care of him, I can’t help but think that there really are blessings in a skinned knee.