The kids and I were leaving their daycare, and just like other days since the weather changed, when all other children across this fine country are donning fleece-lined coats, my kids flat out refused to wear their coats. Just like other days since they began refusing I replied with a heavy sigh and a “let’s just go.” Except on this day, my four year old found it necessary to say to another mom, a mom who was forcing her kid to put on his coat just like most moms across this land, “my mom let’s me have the choice.”
I admit I hung my head in shame and scurried them out the door as fast as I could. I admit that there’s a part of me that was like, Why can’t you be that mom that forces their kids into their coats? And definitely there was a part of me that was like, Why can’t you be those kids that let their parents force them into coats? And of course I justified it with reasoning that they were only walking from the daycare to the car and in the car I would be removing their coats anyway for the car seats until the -20 weather begins at which point I’ll be a little less firm where the no-coat-in-the-car seat thing is concerned, and I reasoned that they would likely get outside and understand that it was cold and change their minds about putting on their coats but if they didn’t out of stubbornness today they were perhaps more likely to put the coats on tomorrow but if not tomorrow they definitely would when the -20 rolls around. A part of me knows that I’m just choosing my battles and avoiding a fight. A part of me doesn’t want other moms to look at me with what-are-you-doing eyes.
But, a part of me tells myself that they are learning, that there is a lesson in all of this. A part of me pats myself on the back for allowing them this freedom. A part of me thinks, Why shouldn’t they be allowed to choose? Why should I bother to force them?
It’s a reasoning that I’ve come around too– kicking and screaming, mind you– several times over the course of my life as a parent. I understand that my kids are not the kids that move gently into that good light. More than that, I understand that neither myself nor my husband were not those kids either. Stubbornness prevailed for us, and the legacy lives on. I cannot fault my children for what is only in their genes. Nor would I want to for I remember as a young child, when I was not allowed to come to my own conclusions no matter how painful the process, it always left me feeling slighted and even more bound and determined to have my way the next time.
As much as it drives me insane, I am grateful at my kids’ determinedness to understand life in their own way, to express themselves in whatever menial way they see fit. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to choose? Why shouldn’t they indeed.
But only for the walk from the daycare to the car.
Originally published November 10, 2015