Natural Consequence, Results of Actions, Absence of Control

In our home, we don’t teach our kids that there are consequences for their behavior – we don’t fabricate a world for their learning of the negative, or for the purpose of giving them lessons.  In our home, results of behavior occur for the child just as they do for the adult.  Of course, if a result would be harmful or damaging, we buffer, but otherwise we do not.  When a result should occur for the purpose of them learning something, and in fact nothing related really happens, we either simply verbalize our relevant thoughts or we let it be, trusting that the child will acquire the necessary understanding at a later time when the child is ready.

Parenting like this requires trust in the mind of the developing child, openness in communication and raw relating from parent to the child, and a complete lack of fear of losing control – because there is no “controlling” in the first place.

Does this lack of control mean my kids run my home? Actually, to some it may seem that they have too much influence because we choose to accept and accommodate their wants, preferences, and needs as equal to our own. Yet, if someone were to be a fly on the wall, they’d see that this respect we bestow upon the children is returned without force.  I don’t need to control my child because I trust her ability to reason, I don’t fear her making a mistake because I trust in her ability to accept herself and learn through experience, and I am willing to be inconvenienced for the duration of her childhood when necessary.

There are exceptions, when I must enforce something out of practicality.  Even then, however, my prevailing mentality is not to direct but to allow her to explore and learn through her own understanding and experiences.  Tonight my kiddo (4) decided to set a square box (cushioned cube) to sit upon, right in front of the tv.  Initially, I talked with her about the decision as she was too near the tv and the tv isn’t securely mounted as of yet (it’s new).  I asked her to make certain that if she was going to leave the cube to sit on so near the tv that she not bump the stand (or make the tv move) at all.

A few minutes passed and before long, she’d stretched herself between the cube and the tv stand like a bridge, and needless to say, the tv was jostled and wiggling in time with her own movements.  I watched for a few moments, to determine whether she’d correct the situation on her own.  She didn’t.  I stepped in.

I knelt near her, paused the program she was engaged in, asked for her eye contact, and said in a flat and gentle tone, with respect and not condescension in my voice, “Bugz, your feet on the stand are causing the tv to move too much.  There’s a good chance the tv might get damage because of how much it’s moving, and how close you are to it.  I mentioned to you just a few moments ago that if you were going to sit on the cube so near the tv you’d have to make sure not to bump the tv or the stand…  (She reflects, then I continue.)  I see the tv is still moving a bit even after you’ve now taken your feet off the stand.  I don’t want our new tv damaged and this concerns me.”

Her response, “Why does the tv move so much?”

My explanation, “Because the stand is meant to allow for some movement safely that won’t damage the tv, but we don’t have the tv in a good place yet and so it’s not secure.  It’s my job to mount the tv and I haven’t done it yet.  I know.. if it were, then we wouldn’t be talking about it..”

She responds, “Yeah, so can you fix it cuz I want to make a bridge but I don’t want to mess up the tv.”

I simply told her at that point that I wasn’t going to mount it at this time (I’m sick today, the room isn’t ready, the wall isn’t ready… I’m procrastinating… etc, etc.) and that the she was welcome to continue using the cube to sit on, but that it would need to be moved back a few feet from the tv.  She responded with some annoyance and disappointment, but she acknowledged me and picked up the cube, moved it to the center of the room (6′ or so from the tv) and resumed watching her show.  Shortly thereafter, she found herself climbing on the back of the couch, mimicking the cat on the tv, and was quite pleased.

I acknowledged her interest in the physical elements of the placement of the cube.  She likes to climb, stretch, jump, and teeter on things that are entirely not stable but she manages.  She also actively interacts with the tv, as we don’t use it except for education and/or entertainment that she physically responds to/with.  It’s unfair of me to restrict her just because I am too lazy to take care of the reason I am compelled to restrict in the first place.  If I took the time to mount the thing as it is meant to be, or at least set it onto a surface that was safer than what I have chosen, the entire conversation would never have happened.  She knows this.  She knows I have chosen to procrastinate, and that as a result I have had to ask her to forgo something she finds enjoyable.  Yet she doesn’t throw a fit, doesn’t intentionally defy me.. She also (this time) didn”t refuse to respect my request even with my own laziness being the cause, and her being well aware of it.  She chose to acknowledge the real concern I had for preserving the electronic equipment, chose to respect my request because it made sense to her and she happened to value the same that I did in tihs case, and she chose to modify what she could do to suit her desire to use her body to enjoy what she was watching on the tv.

Does she always make these decisions that go my way?  No.  But most of the time she does, and most of the time, I make decisions that go hers.  Though, if I demand something I can almost guarantee her respect and consideration of me, my wants, expectations, etc., become the very last thing she is interested in honoring.  Is an adult any different?

So, I don’t demand, and I don’t control.  I guide, educate, share and communicate very openly, demonstrate empathy and equal respect, respond out of compassion, and gently smile as the amazing things really impress me and the not so great just fade a moment later out of importance.  I screw this up a lot too… but the more I mess up, the more aware I become, and the I can choose how I interact, and what being in the position to parent really means.

My Position

I’ve been giving some thought lately to asking for a raise. Trouble is, I can’t quite nail down a proper and fair dollar amount to request. My job’s description is longer than I can really articulate here… BUT I’d love your suggestions, especially those of you with more experience handling these matters. I’m just not sure what is best.

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Job Description, in no certain order and not likely very comprehensive or complete because I can’t really risk taking the time to write this – I’m going to get caught and then well, I need to keep my reputation and appearances up, ya know?

– Responsible for creating and growing a human.

– Responsible for giving birth, nurturing, and sustaining the life of that human.

– Responsible for the cognitive development, positive and appropriate environment for said development, and consistent reinforcement and encouragement of said human and his/her development – for a minimum of said human’s childhood and perhaps beyond into early adulthood.

– Responsible for maintaining the health and well being of another human(s). This means, I am required to know how to not only save their life in the case of an emergency, but preferably maintain a vigilant yet never intrusive protective forcefield around their extremely mobile existence in effort to prevent any injury, or perception of injury, both to their physical existence, but also the emotional aspect of their being.

– Responsible for delivering either personally or through an institution all of the necessary lessons required to provide the skills and knowledge needed for said human to survive independently. And, in effort to be eligible for a bonus, ever, I must also provide them such skills and knowledge that they not only survive, but thrive, happily.

– Position requires constant awareness, attention to EVERY detail, even the unspoken and barely perceived ones. Position also requires a wisdom often acquired through experience, often acknowledged only what is termed “intuition”, that is capable of not only predicting the future, but having foresight and hindsight simultaneously, and adapting this wisdom spontaneously in effort to make it applicable to the unique aspects of said human, who by the way will be adapting and modifying itself at a random, erratic, and often breakneck pace, for which my position is required to stay a minimum of two steps ahead of said changes. Should I not manage to keep up with the pace, but only match it, I will receive a rather serious reprimand and be expected to immediately step it up a few notches, never to slack again.

– Position requires the preparation of food, activities, and experiences consistent with the growth and development of said person. It is to my best advantage to not procrastinate, ever. Further, it is to my advantage to sleep only as absolutely enough as my body requires to function because otherwise, I will be playing catch up, constantly. The reason for this? Such preparations, whether they be mental or physical, are not feasible when the said human is awake and in need of my doting and selfless attentions. Therefore, I must be willing to sacrifice (knowing full well that this position would requires such a sacrifice, for the duration of the position) my sleep, my interests to a fair degree, (though if I am crafty and sly enough, I can attempt to integrate some of my interests into the activities and interests of the human(s) I am responsible for) and most importantly, the willingness to not only not have time to do with as I please, but the ability to not need that time either. This is a requirement that does somewhat decrease with tenure, but only slightly, and I must constantly use great wisdom and discretion with how much, where, and when I execute this “comp” time for my own benefit and rest.

– Position requires I be an ambassador to adults and children alike, of all walks of life and backgrounds. I must stand in the middle and somehow strike a balance, instruct in the positive, teach without harping, and ultimately defend and protect the person(s) for which I am responsible. However, I cannot do so in a manner that in any way speaks to their own inadequacies or underdevelopment, for to do so would not only undermine all my efforts, but damage the human, perhaps irreparably. For this, I will be fired, I will be required to pay reparations for the duration of my natural life, and even then I will never ever atone completely for my error and carelessness. (This aspect of my responsibility is applicable universally, not just in the act of defense and/or protection, but in every breath I take, every thought I have, and every action I choose or allow to occur, whether in the presence of said human or not, because someone is always watching. Part of accepting this position is my willingness to give up my privacy and option to answer only to myself. Every mistake I make must be openly acknowledged, on multiple levels and to multiple others in management. And I must willing accept that at any time, any given mistake I make, may cause me to not only be dishonorably discharged, but will include a package of guilt I must accept and fully acknowledge, as the mistake could be one that causes eternal scarring. – I knew this going into the job, and assumed I’d just never make a mistake, or try VERY VERY hard not to, but then I discovered that I was second guessing myself. Guess what, that in and of itself was an offense which carried a heavy enough punishment (strife, emotional upheaval, and struggling of all kinds, some yet to be discovered) that I quickly learned it best to go with my gut, even if it ended up in disaster. After all, if disaster was eminent, at least I’d only be held accountable for causing it under a single pretense, instead of two or more.

– Position requires spending my own income to provide for the needs and desires of this human for which I am ultimately responsible for, until that human can appropriately take responsibility for themselves (something greatly determined by my own performance, I might add – a great motivator!)

– Position does not provide sick time, vacation time, or personal days. If such is desired, a substitute must be acquired for the duration of my absence. Additionally, when I return, I am responsible for re-establishing any lost balance, lost ground/progress, or generated instability, insecurity, or general malaise resulting from my absence and substitute. Question: Is vacation and time off worth the tripling of work that will await me when I return. Conclusion: Only if my life is in danger, and then only if I can’t perform my duties and functions safely and effectively.

I could go on, but my potty break is over (I don’t get smoke breaks, and lunch breaks are something of only myth and legend).

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So, what do you think? My current compensation, monetarily anyway is approximately $0k annually. I get kickbacks once in while, and my reward system is my choice to see for myself the fruits of my labor in the development and wonder found by simply observing the human for which I am responsible.

Additionally, I must remain confident and courageous in the face of adversity of all sorts. Of particular difficulty, I must face those who find it appropriate to question the validity of my position and my career choices. These individuals often use belittling tactics that are aimed at not only diminishing the position I hold, but devaluing me directly. It is assumed that I am an uneducated flunky who is incapable of holding a real job, so I resort to the cute title of Stay at Home Mom.

When faced with these individuals, I am forced to split myself in two, call upon an inner strength that rivals the wind, and not only defend my position, defend my education and abilities, defend my very worth and value as a contributor to society as a whole, but I must also do so while not letting the human for which I am responsible smell even a hint of my own pain or need. I must simultaneously uphold that human and never, for even a second, allow them to think they are an inconvenience or the source of difficulty.

I know I’m forgetting a lot; a side effect of pregnancy, toddler-hood, and well, my position in general. I suspect no one has actually read to this point, so it doesn’t matter, except to me. But you know, in case you are still reading, I realized something today…

I am responsible for the life of another human, who based upon my diligence will grow to be an adult who functions independently. This adult will directly and indirectly influence and impact the life and existence of every other human, animal, plant, and building on the planet we live on. Especially in our ever increasing global community, what they become as an adult will surely leave a mark, even the smallest one, a mark just the same.

What I do now affects you. And me, and Joe down the road, Sue across the state, Jack who lives on the next continent, and Jira who is on the other side of the planet. No wonder my position is one that is commonly dismissed and accepted as the only job that exists universally that isn’t a real job… If we actually stopped to swallow the immensity of the responsibility of this position, I fear we might all collectively faint.

Then who would keep the infant humans alive? There aren’t enough machines in existence to accomplish it, and it’s not like they can survive on their own.

So, if your position and career has some of the same responsibilities and required dedication, please let me know what you think I should ask for when I take my request for a raise to my management, or the federal government, whichever has the courage to show its face first.

And no, I did not edit this, as if I should have the sort of time to do something so trivial as to make myself look educated.