So then…he teeters toward the step down into the living room and I lunge for his little toddler legs in case he tips. He doesn’t. He waddles over toward his mother who is calmly watching him in her peripheral vision, while simultaneously chatting with another mom, eating chips and dip, and putting another child’s hair in a ponytail.
I marvel at her composure. I only have 2 kids and I’m watching them like a hawk for safety, hygiene, dietary desires, and every other conceivable need. If they so much as TOOT, I wanna know about it!
She has 6 kids and seems cool as a cucumber. I lean in to see if her eyes are dilated – maybe she’s heavily sedated.
When she notices me hovering around her youngest as a personal bodyguard, she lets me know that he’ll be fine.
“But I’m so worried he’s going to fall into our living room floor or hit his head on the furniture,” I say.
She says, “Well, he’s our sixth, ya know – ”
(Yeah, I know – but what, the sixth one is expendable? Does she mean, “Oh it’s OK — if he’s a goner, I’ve got 5 more at home just like him”?)
“—so I keep an eye on him,” she continues, “but by now, I figure they’re all going to encounter some little bumps and bruises along the way.”
That makes sense. I ease up a little.
We eat lunch — the kids get in their swimsuits — we slather them with sunscreen – and they head to the backyard pool where the dads are on lifeguard duty.
Just then, one of her daughters comes up to her and says plaintively, “Mom, this swimsuit doesn’t fit me.”
We look down to see this 6-year-old girl literally hunched over in a one-piece swimsuit fit for a much younger child. The straps are pinching into her shoulders and her face is filled with pain.
The mom looks at her daughter and says nonchalantly, “Well, that happens sometimes with hand-me-downs, so if that’s all we brought, you’ll just have to make do.”
Make do? My mind is racing for alternatives. My daughter is age 4 so her swimsuits would be too small. My swimsuits would be way too big – but perhaps some safety pins? They live too far away to go all the way back for another one. My mind’s whizzing with other possible solutions.
The daughter says, “But it’s hard to move around, Mom. It kinda hurts.”
And the mom says, “You’ll get used to it. Now go on out and enjoy the pool with the kids. It’s a beautiful day, so go have some fun.”
So the little girl hunches back to the pool — and proceeds to have a blast with all the kids — swimming and playing and squirting water guns and doing pool flips all day long.
I am stunned.
I say to the Mom, “Omigosh, if I were at someone’s house and that was my kid complaining about a too-small swimsuit, I would’ve run to the nearest Target to buy her a new one! Or driven home to get one that fit! Or torn down the curtains and sewed her a new one on the spot!”
She laughs and says, “Yeah, I was pretty accommodating with my first couple kids, but then they started to expect it. So if I didn’t want to end up with a bunch of high-maintenance kids, I figured I’d better teach them to just go with the flow.”
I am in awe. I want to be like this mother.
What a wonderful philosophy. She tells her kid who has a genuine problem, “It’s a beautiful day, so go enjoy it” – and her kid does!
My kids are high-maintenance because I cater to their every whim.
And it’s all because I only had 2 kids.
If I had 6 kids, I’d be a much better mother.
— Darcy Perdu
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(Do you accommodate your children a little too much? Or are you a “go-with-the-flow” mom? Am I the only one with high-maintenance kids? Share an example of your parenting style — Over-Accommodating or Adaptable-Go-With-the-Flow?)