By Emily Millman of The Moments In Between
As a step-parent, I get it. I totally do.
He’s a boy. He’s three. He gets loud, dirty, and destructive. He’s a kid, and he acts like one. But there comes a time when you’re trying to keep your sanity and patience and your little cupcake just won’t stop being ridiculous.
I was recently at a dinner party with friends and my stepson was the only kid under 10 there. He was over-tired, yet hyper, so he wasn’t listening to a word I was saying as he tried to stand on the table, scream, throw things, and demand cookies when he had barely touched his healthy, yet totally edible dinner.
I sighed for the umpteenth time, getting ready to haul him away from the table and give him a stern talking to about table manners when I heard it:
“Just let him be a kid!”
What does that even mean? Just let him flail, act out, and scream while we all sit back and watch? Just smile as my little riot conductor launches a carrot at my face and remember that at least he’s having fun? When did it become okay for our children to not have structure?
I feel that there’s a time and a place for being a crazy little monkey baby with no qualms about Mom and Dad’s sanity. Like at home, at a playground, or any other area that is deemed fit for Sir Screams-a-lot to let loose and “be a kid.”
I get that his brain is still developing and for now he has the attention span of someone with severe ADHD, and I know that’s not his fault. I also know that fidgeting, occasionally finding an immense desire to stand up and walk around while eating, and protesting about sitting at a table like a big boy comes with the job of being a parent while eating with your child like a non-heathen at the dinner table.
But don’t kids need structure so that they can “be a kid” and bounce off the walls that you provide?
That day at the dinner party, knowing he was over-tired and was probably acting out because of that, I took him away from the party anyway, and after explaining in short sentences why his behavior was not acceptable, let him run around like a lunatic and scream at the top of his lungs before we went back. I told him to get it out of his system, and once he did, then we would sit and enjoy dinner quietly together.
He wasn’t perfectly poised and serious when we got back, of course, but I still considered it a win anyway. (I had A LOT of luck on my side too!) He’s three, and his emotions bubble over more times than a pregnant woman watching a movie about puppies, but I don’t think that by the end of the day we both should feel like we’ve fought a war that no one has won. Raising a child who isn’t your own is hard enough without the added pressure of letting him act like a cookie-obsessed kangaroo on speed.
I love my little, and I love that at this point in time he can enjoy the carefree attitude that comes with being a kid, but I just don’t want it to come with the price of figuring out which one of us can be the loudest and overrule the other at the dinner table.
This post was originally published on The Moments In Between
About Emily Millman
I’m a sarcastic and over-caffeinated twenty-something that writes inspirational and occasional quirky articles on my blog, “The Moments In Between”. I have a knack for spewing words that blend well, am slightly obsessed with the color blue, and have a three year old stepson that inspires me to be a better, and happier person every single day.