Sunday, November 18, 2007


I'm going to start with a story and then I have a couple of questions about parenting.

Today at Church was that day that the children did the presentations. They had musical numbers and little talks prepared, it was really cute. The Mugwump was the star of the show, he sang louder than the rest of the kids combined (or at that point do you call it screaming?). Anyway, he was into the music, he would sing and if he ran into a note that he liked where he knew the words (OK, it rarely lasted more than one word), he would stick with it for a while and make sure everyone knew that word. Sure, the rest of the choir moved on, but really that didn't matter because the only person you could hear was my son belting out the words he knew at the top of his lungs. Well, that's not completely true, because he belted out the notes if he didn't know the words. You know what I'm talking about, you do the same thing while you are singing along to the radio and you don't know the words, you start da da da-ing along. So did the Mugwump. At the top of his lungs. It was really cute.

The best part was that when the Mugwump got all excited with the singing, Six-pence would hear him and make sure that everyone knew that was his brother. Then we had our kids, the Mugwump belting out a song in the primary chorus and Six-pence chanting his name from the front row of the congregation. You would have thought it was a rock concert had we not been in the church. I was proud of both of them. I like that they aren't reserved and that they are happy to sing out in the front of a large group.

So I've got a couple of parenting questions. I'll start easy and get progressively more difficult. The last one should really be a blog of its own, but I'll put it out there and see if I get any comments first.

First question... How do you get a four year old to wipe for himself? He's potty trained (during the day anyway) and he rarely has accidents, but after he poops, he sits on the toilet yelling, "I need to be wiped!" We've talked to him about this and suggested that it would be far easier if he were to just do it on his own, but he says he's not going to until he's 5. I know I can just put up with another 6 months of wiping for him (and that's probably how things will end up anyway), but I was wondering if there were any other suggestions out there.

Second question... How do you teach a four year old to spit? He's doing well with brushing his teeth, but when it comes time to spit, he sort of does a congested elephant thing that takes a whole lot of effort, and very little comes out of his mouth (except noise, there's plenty of noise). This is actually a step of progress, he used to just swallow it and refuse to spit, but then we threatened to make him brush with baking soda if he didn't spit. He didn't spit and he got the baking soda. Talk about good spitting, that kid was able to get every bit of the baking soda out of his mouth with good productive spits, but when we use toothpaste, he's back to the elephant thing. Any suggestions?

Third Question... So I came home the other day and the Mugwump ran out to meet me with a spaghetti server and a chop stick and showed me his "bow and arrow". "Such a creative little boy", I thought. Little did I realize that this kid could actually shoot the chopstick with the spaghetti server. So I'm watching him use this thing and he puts the chopstick through the hole in the spaghetti server and then pulls on the chopstick a little creating some pretty good bend in the spaghetti server. When he lets go, the chopstick shoots through the air, right at whatever he was aiming at. So if that didn't make sense, I just ran downstairs and took a picture of the setup in case people didn't believe me, you can see that below. So here's the question... We aren't big fans of weapons in our home, and normally I would discourage the use of a bow and arrow, but this setup is so ingenious, I have a hard time discouraging his little creative mind. So what do you do, encourage the creation of highly accurate weapons, or discourage a creative developing mind?

OK, final question... This is the one that I could do an entire blog about. I probably should put it off and give it its own air time, but I have time tonight so I'm going to do it now to add to the world's longest post that only two people will actually read the entirety of (Thanks Mom). So my wife is doing a home-school thing with the Mugwump. He loves learning and it's going well.

Last week the lesson was safety, so my wife got some DVDs from the library about child safety. We previewed them and were sort of split on the talking to strangers issue. On the one hand, you want your child to be safe and there are some bad people out there, so prohibiting your children from talking to strangers is a good way to help assure that your child doesn't get abducted. On the other hand, in watching the DVDs, it seems like they aim to make the children scared of adults they don't know or who aren't on their "safe list". Not all adults are bad. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the vast majority of adults would not harm a child, even if they were alone with the child and nobody would ever know what happened between them. There are only a relative few wackos in the world that would actually harm a vulnerable child. In teaching children to fear or distrust all adults, are we creating a society of distrust? Would our communities be safer if we knew everyone on our street and had relationships with them so that we recognize when there's someone around that doesn't belong? Wouldn't teaching my kid to trust better accomplish the goal of building community than teaching him to distrust all adults?

Sure there's a middle ground, but I still think the point is valid. I like it when my kids approach the people walking by our house and start a conversation with them. I think it's friendly. I also think that it's safe while my wife or I are sitting there watching them. I think it is a way of building community, which is desperately needed in the world. Of course my children are taught not to get into a car with a stranger or to take candy from someone they don't know, but I think that we need to learn to trust and to be friends. I think the key is to teach kids to think and make good decisions for themselves (and then supervise them until they are old enough to make those decisions).

I may come back to that point sometime, but for now I'm going to conclude my longest ever blog entry.


GeekCyclist said...

On the weapons point...

Encourage the creativity, don't worry about the direction. We really tried to control 'weapons' in our home. My sister-in-law actually tried to ban them in their home. What we learned is that kids, particularly boys, are going to play gun and weapon games. They will make them out of sticks, out of legos, and out of kitchen utensils.

Take it as an opportunity to talk about safety, about violence, or about compassion. We tried to instill our 'values' and it seems to have worked. My two sons enjoy shooting with the boy scouts, but the older one actually brought up 'a well regulated militia...' in a discussion about the number of guns another scout wants to buy.

Heather said...

In regards to teaching your kids to talk to strangers...
I think we as a culture should empower our children instead of victimizing them. Which in my opinion, our society victimizes children a lot more than empowering them. If we teach children to NOT talk to strangers they become victims because they don't know how to act or think in strange situations. But if we teach them to think, ask questions, and learn how to choose the good, they become empowered because they can act for themselves.
I agree that our society is becoming distrustful, and that's because people fear so many things, like their child being abducted. (Which as a parent now, I do too.) Now we can either act on that fear, or give into it. I think people who teach their children to not talk to stranger are giving into fear. But if we can teach our children to think and act for themselves we don't pass on that fear to our children and don't let that fear dictate our lives. Therefore creating a more trustful society.
I hope that made sense!

As for the wiping situation, I learned in my child development class that children at his age are testing boundaries, as you probably know. So if you are consistent, and follow through with what you say, it will work itself out. Hopefully. :)

Laurel-Anne said...

Hi Sans

Loved the story about singing - we have a son named Elijah, and one day our pastor was preaching on the prophet Elijah, and talking about how Elijah was taken up to heaven. Our Elijah was my sister's place at the time, and every time the pastor would say "Elijah went to ...) our two year old would yell "NO! Elijah's in Prince Rupert!"

About the wiping - I can't help. Our oldest two were happy to take over the task for themselves, but our current four year old refuses. Let me know if you figure it out.

Same goes for the spitting - the older brothers had no trouble, the current four year old rarely spits. Maybe practice with water?

About the weapons - boys will play with weapons. Take the opportunity to teach them safety and non-violence.

And, about the strangers. After reading a book by Gavin DeBecker (sp?) called "Protecting the Gift", we are teaching our kids to be wary of people who approach them and want to show them things or take them places. We also teach them to seek help from women, particularly moms with children if they ever get lost. There's a lot of good advice in the book - your library should have it.

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Emily Allan Wood said...

I feel in no way qualified to offer parental advice since I am just beginning that adventure, but I sure want you to know that I appreciate that you are a thoughtful and involved parent. You're boys are in good hands even if they can't spit or wipe themselves. And as far as weapons go, try not to think of it as a weapon. Its just really fun to launch things really far. I built a bow and arrow once and loved shooting at things because its fun to see things fly fast. The physics are amazing. He's a genius.