In my fourteen months as a mother, I’ve observed that we, a society, generally don’t expect kids to act like kids.
In other words – we like babies, but only if they look like Baby Gap models.
Ideally, we want our babies to wear pin-able outfits, be immaculately clean, to only say cute things at appropriate items, and always be smiling with dimples. Yes, they must have dimples. We want to cuddle all the babies, but only if they are wearing pristine outlet store layettes, not covered in yogurt, and aren’t too obnoxious: throwing tantrums, slapping their sibling, making a mess.
Proof of the fact that we want kids to behave like mini-adults (only cuter) is by the way parents react to their children acting like children in public places. When a threenager flops on the floor and wails in Aisle 6, her mother feels compelled to ask loud enough for onlookers to hear, “Why are you doing that? Come on! You know better!”
Or when the mom profusely excuses the carrot-colored stains on her son’s clothes. “So sorry, we had lunch just before we came, he’s a little messy.”
We, the society of grown adults, need to accept reality. Kids act like kids.
I have a sneaking suspicion many moms and dads attempt to conjure a sort of parenting mirage for strangers in public. I can’t give you hard facts or figures, but I can give tons of anecdotal evidence. It’s a common occurrence to witness parents disciplining their children in pronounced ways, obvious enough that onlookers won’t think they’ve been lax in their parenting duties.
I’ve heard this phrase “let them be little” repeated a lot in the mommy blogging world lately. It’s a great reminder.
A kid might run around all day in his superhero outfit.
Heck, a kid may run around all day in only his diaper.
Is it really that big of a deal?
One day these tiny humans are going to have to deal with flat tires and bosses and mortgages.
Let them be little.
Don’t freeze up if a child you’re around cries or tantrums or throws food on you or does anything quantifiably un-adorable. Sometimes kids do look like Baby Gap models. And sometimes they just need to get out some good ol’ fashioned, messy, romp in the dirt kid energy.