Recently, Baby T has been saying a lot of, “I just never get to do what I want to do!”
I get it. The morning routine before school is pretty regimented. We need to have our shoes on and get in the car at a certain time. Bathroom breaks need to happen at a certain time. Socks must be worn to avoid death-wish stinky feet. We go to Tmuffin after school. We can’t get too crazy at Tmuffin. We can’t order the food everyone else is ordering. Baby T doesn’t get to pick whether I drive him home or Big T picks him up.
During the week, there are a lot of times Baby T can’t decide what we do. If he wants to go to the park, we can’t. If he wants to buy Chik Fil-A for lunch, we can’t. If he wants a friend to come over, we can’t.
I try to give him as many options as I can: What does he want to pack for lunch? He can pick out his own clothes. What socks does he want to wear? What art project does he want to work on?
But still, the world revolves around school and work most days of the week.
So on this week’s Sunday Funday, I took the day off. I stayed home allllll day. I didn’t go into work even for an hour. And I let Baby T make the decisions. The night before, we had gone over a plan with him:
- Dad would watch the construction shows at 9.
- Baby T wanted to watch Julius Jr. at 11. Cool.
- We would watch football and our cooking shows at 2.
- We would go to Mom-Mom’s for dinner.
(It sounds like we watch a lot of TV, doesn’t it.)
So our Sunday Funday began. Big T had gone to bed late the night before, so I let him hang on the couch and I spent the morning in the playroom with the kids, playing whatever Baby T wanted. When I needed a minute to do some cleaning and work, Big T spent time in the playroom with the kids. We switched back when Big T wanted to vacuum the house. The kids got to play whatever they wanted, with us accompanying them, all morning.
At 10, Baby T decided he had a great idea. He wanted to rearrange some furniture. I let him.
The new table was in place. Baby T wanted a snack. He wanted to pick the number of pretzels he got. He got them.
At 11, Baby T watched his show. He said he wanted to go to the park after the show.
At 11:30, off to the park we went. Baby T picked the park.
When we came home, Baby T got to pick what he had for lunch.
So when it was time to watch the cooking show, the boys played wonderfully together while we salivated over some ribs. They were still in great moods.
It seems a little silly, right? Give my kid–what?–three major choices to make and it changes our world? But it did. I know there are some of you thinking, “But kids have to learn that they don’t always get to make choices. They need to be ok with the adults making the decisions.” Sure, but honestly, every day of the week, every major decision is made by us wise grown ups. We get to eat what we want, wear what we want, leave at the time we designate, drive where we want, buy what we want, go to bed when we want. And we still complain that we can’t take a shower when we want, that we can’t enjoy some bathroom time by ourselves, that our schedule feels chaotic because we’re picking the kids up here and there.
As adults, we have a LOT of free will. And when it’s challenged, we get really cranky. We yell at our kids and throw tantrums. So imagine being that kid. That kid who hears, “Do this, do that,” all day long. They are in pretty good little moods for all the control we try to inflict on them all day long. Compared to us, they are extremely well adjusted. So they deserve to make choices. They deserve to have days where they can make all the decisions. They deserve to feel the empowerment of being in control of their lives.
At the very least, it makes for a really nice Sunday Funday.