We had put a lot of effort into attending a paint splatter party at an art studio. Since it was over an hours drive from our house we spent the night at Mike’s parents the night before to make the commute easier in the morning. And the experience didn’t come cheap, around $40 for my kids to participate but I thought you can’t put a price on art and education.
I had visions of colourful paint splattered wall hangings gracing our walls at home. Visions of my children giggling and hooting while they threw paint against a wall.
But when we got there Lan decided he did not want to do it.
He did not want to get his socks dirty. I told him he could take his socks off and go barefoot.
He did not want to get his feet dirty. I told him he could wear his shoes if he didn’t mind getting paint on them.
He did not want to get his clothes dirty. I told him I had specifically packed those clothes because they were clothes that could get ruined.
I tried manipulation. I explained that this was costing me a lot of money. I tried to make him see how much fun the other kids were having, and didn’t he want to have fun too? I tried to make him feel bad so he would change his mind and participate.
I was pissed. I told him I was mad. I told him we were wasting money and we had made a lot of efforts to come here.
Then I had no choice but to accept, but I was not happy about it.
All day I reflected. Was it right for me to be so pissed off that he refused to participate? Should I have handled it differently? What if I had just respected his choices instead of trying to manipulate him?
This parenting stuff if freaking hard.
Then at night, we were laying in bed talking. I apologized for trying to push him. I explained why I had gotten upset with him but I explained it to him without the intention of manipulation, just a ‘this is how mommy was feeling’ kind of explanation. I asked him to explain to me what he was feeling. He told me he did not want to get paint on him, he just wanted to watch the other kids doing it.
In the end it was money well spent. I will still get something to hang on my wall because Kayden participated and I got a valuable lesson in parenting.
Being consumed by expectations will only lead to disappointment. If I want my children to be independent thinkers I have to let them. If I can just take a step out of my own head to listen to their feelings I will understand them and be able to support them. Manipulation is not nice, it feels icky when people do it to me so why would I do it to my children? Even though sometimes its hard, I have to respect their choices.
Have you ever been in a similar situation where your child’s choices did not jive with your expectations? How did you handle it?