Jayson and I had a conversation the other day which confirmed something I had been thinking about for awhile. He’s been taking the girls to preschool some mornings, and they told me that when they ride the taxi with him, Hannah sits next to the door in the back seat. However, when they ride with me, which is most of the time, Emma sits next to the door. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: When you take the girls to preschool, does Hannah go into the taxi first?
Him: I guess. Sometimes.
Me: You mean you don’t tell them who should go in first when the taxi pulls up? (with a hint of incredulity).
Him: Um, no. They just get in. (with a hint of “why would I need to do that?”)
Me: Oh. (pause) I tell them exactly what to do every time the taxi is pulling up. I say, ‘okay girls, the taxi is coming…when it stops, Emma will go in first and climb all the way to the door and then Hannah you climb in and sit right next to her, and don’t put your feet on the seat, just walk on the floor. Make sure you move all the way over because I need room with Layla.’ I say that every time! And then when the taxi stops, I say, ‘okay girls, we are almost home. When the taxi stops, climb out as quickly as you can so the taxi doesn’t have to wait.’
Him: (with both of us chuckling at this point) Yeah, I just let them get in the taxi.
Me: And it works?
Me: Hmmm, I guess I am a little controlling.
This is one good example of my type A personality coming out in my mothering. It started to occur to me that not all moms do things the same when we visited some American friends a few months ago. This mom has two boys around my girls’ age. At one point, she brought out finger paints and let her oldest and my two girls go to town. I was a little nervous at first, wanting to get up and give detailed instructions to my girls about not getting paint anywhere except the paper and not mixing colors up, etc. But I refrained and just watched, partly in amazement that the mom of the house wasn’t giving more boundaries. But you know what? The kids had great fun painting all over their papers, mixing colors and of course, getting paint on their hands, arms and clothes. But, it’s washable. So who cares? They had fun. I didn’t analyze myself at the time, but later realized that first of all, we don’t even have paint. (That’s at least partially intentional). We have markers, but they are only used under supervision! If I did have paint, I would probably only let one kid paint at a time, they would strip down to their skin, I would carefully explain that they should keep the colors nice and clean, and I would be tense the whole time they had access to paint with their fingers! Sound like fun? Not really.
It’s good to have these experiences and conversations as it is showing me some places where I can ease up a bit. The same friend who let the kids finger paint freely, also encouraged me that I wasn’t too over-the-top with the taxi thing. She reminded me that it is good for the girls to know what to expect and be prepared for what they should do. After all, I am the one who is with them most all the time when they are riding the taxi and it is good to have some order. So, thanks, friend, for your encouragement. And thanks, Jayson, for laughing with me about this. And thanks, girls, for being flexible and following my detailed orders most of the time, and teaching me a little more about how to have fun.