Do you ever have those moments where your kids do something or say something that just makes your skin prickle with horror and you think CRAP - Exactly WHERE did I go wrong?
Occasionally I do and although they are not big awful things that they do or say (touch wood so far) they can be small enough to kick those tiny little cogs in my brain into action and start thinking about things like what would I do differently if I got to start all over again with them?
I was thinking about this last night as I was going to sleep. Earlier that night I had enjoyed one of those snuggle up on the bed chats with one of boys where you talk about everything and anything and you get a real peek into how their little minds are functioning.
We were talking about liking things that other people don't like and what happens when the things you like to do aren't considered cool by your friends. Big stuff to be discussing after the evening performance of the school play, but when they get on a roll and are opening up to me, I prefer to just let it happen, no matter where, when or how late it is.
The point I am taking such a bloody long time to get to is that I went to sleep wondering if I have done something or set an example in some way to make them hesitant to be themselves in anyway, or to conform to what is cool or acceptable. This of course lead my mind to the point where I begin to question everything I have taught them and what would I do differently if I got to do it all over again.
The reality is I would do SO MUCH differently if I got to start over, but here's just a few things that I can remember thinking before I drifted off to sleep.
I would be more encouraging in letting them express their individuality. If they wanted to wear a Superman outfit with a Dorothy the Dinosaur tail out to dinner instead of the cargo pants and white button up I had chosen for them, well then I would just let them and I would glare down anyone who dared to look at them with disapproving eyes.
If they really wanted that Bob The Builder T'shirt that I despised and thought was lame instead of the one I thought would look better on them then damn it, I would let them choose that AND the matching hat.
I would be more proactive in teaching them the value of money from an early age and make them wait more often to get what they wanted rather than giving them too much too soon. And I wouldn't waste so much money on buying plastic crap and fads that would be played with for a short time then dumped to the back of the playroom cupboard.
I would relax more about mess and let them stomp around in that mud without worrying about stains and dirt going everywhere and I would even get in there myself and show them how to make a really awesome mud cake.
I would worry less about routine and bedtimes and spend more hours taking evening walks and reading books by torchlight under a tee pee made from the bed covers.
I would get them more involved in the community by giving and helping others so they become truly grateful for who they are and what they have.
I would say no more often so that it doesn't come as such a shock when they hear it from others.
I wouldn't make such a big deal about them eating junk food or drinking soft drink every once in a while so that those things don't become such a big deal and the craving for the forbidden become so strong.
I would get them more involved in daily chores instead of doing it myself and properly and I would just relax when they put away their clothes folded in a way that makes me all twitchy, because at least they are doing it.
I would be stronger in my resolve to not let them waste hours on electrical gadgets and techno stuff just because that's what all their friends are doing.
I would assist them to cook, surf, paint etc from the moment they showed interest rather than wait until I thought they were ready or at a safe enough age to start.
I wouldn't say I have regrets about how we have done things with our boys and they have turned out pretty damn awesome in my totally biased opinion. But with experience comes hindsight and hindsight allows you to see things from a different perspective ... and that's not such a a bad thing really is it?
Would you do anything differently with your kids if you could start over again?