Monday, June 17, 2013

True Parenting Conversations: Balloons

Odd conversation with Secondborn last night. (Remember, he just turned three back in April, so you have to picture his side of the conversation in one of those little-boy voices.)

We'd had dinner at the cafeteria with my parents, and at the end of the meal the boys received balloons. We'd managed to get them into the car without losing either balloon (and if you've ever dealt with balloons and children, you know that's something of an achievement). Getting the balloons safely into the house was a bit easier, since we keep the garage empty enough that we can park cars in it.

But, shortly after that, Secondborn appeared at the back door and wanted to take his balloon - freehand, mind you - into the back yard. Now, we could have just disallowed it, and almost certainly had to deal with an extremely upset three-year-old. (The alternative, of course, would be to let him take the balloon into the back yard and lose it, whereupon we would almost certainly have to deal with an extremely upset three-year-old.) However, as I might have mentioned before, we're not all that interested in raising well-behaved children, especially where "well-behaved" is a shorthand for "quiet, submissive, and obedient". Our actual goal, as parents, is to raise good adults... and that means letting the kids make their own decisions and their own mistakes, in areas which are age-appropriate and not life-threatening.

So we explained to Secondborn that if he took his balloon outside and let go, it was going to float up into the sky and there would be no way to get it back. If he let it go, it would be gone.

That was when Secondborn told us, "Da Bawoon needs to be wif its mommy."

Puzzled, I asked: "Are you saying that if your balloon floats away, it will go to be with its mommy?"

Firmly, he replied: "Yes."

"Okay," I said, and opened the back door for him. I was honestly expecting him to take the balloon outside and release it, in some sort of bizarre three-year-old "Fly! Be with you own kind!" sort of ritual. But, no. He ran around the back yard, tugging the balloon around behind him. Then he ran back inside with it, and put it in his room.

Still, it was a very odd conversation.


  1. There are times when I wish I could crawl into their heads. And there are moments when I am grateful I cannot!


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