So, my four year old just said to me "I like cigarettes. When I am 5 then can I have some cigarettes?" Where did this come from you ask? Well, in SA we did stay at the home of a smoker, a wonderful person that my children really came to love who happened to smoke. There were a couple occasions when both Tyson and Jori saw this man get up to smoke and actually brought him a cigarette (no, this was not in any way encouraged, my kids are just resourceful and figure things out pretty quickly). So now Darin and I have the task of explaining to a four year old that smoking is not a good thing and is in fact disgusting and harmful. The frustrating thing is, there are other people in our lives that my kids love who also smoke. So we'll be encountering this whole situation again, trying to explain the harm and yuckiness of smoking without making our kids think (or say) that people who smoke are bad. I think I liked it better when the only thing he thought he would be getting as a 5 year old was a motorcycle!
Lately, I have taken notice of how much our kids are influenced by the people and things around them. Sadly, I have also noticed the negative influence that I often have in their lives. When I hear them speak unkindly to each other in a tone that I recognize as my own or when I hear them complain about things that I too have also whined about, I realize that they are paying attention to everything I do and say. I even realized the other day that I have been using the Bible, God's holy word, in a negative way. Hearing me quote God as saying "Children, obey your parents", as I am losing my temper or being harsh with my kids does not seem like the most positive introduction of God's word in their lives. It's more like a scare tactic "do this, or else God is going to be very angry". What a great parenting moment.
Since returning from South Africa, I have been reintroduced to the influence of culture on our kids. The Sunday paper was laying out and Jori grabbed the Toys 'R' Us ad and said "This a kids paper, not for you" and then she scooted off to feast her eyes on all the colorful toys inside. I told Darin to get it away from her as soon as he was able and throw it away. She's only 2! In Africa, we had no TV, no newspaper, nothing putting thoughts and images into our kids minds. It was nice. Tyson and Jori had 5 or 6 toys to play with, and they were perfectly content. There were a few times that Tyson asked about a toy at his Michigan house, but they never really whined or begged to have more things to play with.
Now we are back home and are just surrounded by toys. There are even more toys than when we left because the people who stayed in our house left some stuff behind (which the kids totally love). There is a part of me that wants to get out the big black garbage bag and just start tossing things, but they really do play with everything they own and always seem to notice when even the smallest item goes missing. However, as the parent, I know that I need to be the one that decides when enough is enough. They are both too young to decide this on their own. That's why I get to be the scrooge that sometimes says "No toys for Christmas or birthdays". That doesn't make me very popular with our families, but I know that there are times when it needs to be said.
In our basement, is a large Rubbermaid container that is filled, FILLED, with He-man figurines. Yes, He-man. They belonged to Darin when he was young and I have been waiting for the right time to give them to Tyson. I know he would think they are the coolest, especially since they were his dad's. However, when I was in the basement digging out winter clothes earlier this week, I saw that Rubbermaid container and I realized that not only do I not want more stuff strewn about my house right now, but Tyson is still too little for them. That's right, he's too little. My boy is still content to push a stroller around with his sister and pretend that our sofa is an airplane. He loves to play with his tools, or make food in the play kitchen. He's a preschooler. He does preschool things. I don't know how old Darin was when he got his first He-man, but I know he wasn't four! Yet I know that now there are so many 4 year olds playing with toys meant for kids that are older, because they are the "in" thing.
When I was growing up, I loved Barbies. I even made clothes for them and sleeping bags and all sorts of other stuff. I can remember playing with Barbies up until we moved to California, when I was in the 7th grade. And no, I wasn't playing alone. My friends were into Barbie too. Now, Barbie is being marketed to 3 year olds, and while there is NOTHING wrong with a 3 year old playing with Barbies, it does make me think, what will they be playing with in 7th grade? I am pretty sure Barbie was not a preschooler's toy back in the day.
So again, a random, all over the board post from Jonna. I am not even sure anyone is reading this blog now that we are back from Africa, and that is fine by me. Feel free to be a lurker if you want, I myself lurk on several blogs without ever making myself known. Just know that there aren't going to be any posts on bungee jumping or encountering wild animals, other than maybe a rogue squirrel. I'm just going to write about the day to day stuff in our lives, and if there isn't anything going on, I'll just be writing about whatever I happen to be pondering at the moment, which could be a huge mistake as I can get a little worked up, but it's who I am.