Velociraptors Fences and the Rigors of Parenting 2: Electric Bugaloo

April 14, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Whoa! A sequel.  I know.  Doesn’t it remind you of the old days?  “Old days? This blog hasn’t even been around a year and a half.”  I know, but in that short history was an 11 part series entitled Stuff Christians Need to Stop Saying.  That’s right, 11.  That was followed by a series that I got disinterested after 1, entitled Stupid Things Christians Fight About #1.  Since there was only one, the #1 seems pointless.  I guess I could go back, Tron style, and make a sequel after a long gap.

Anywho, this is not really going to be a series.  It’s really more like what is happening with the Hobbit or back in the day with Back to the Future 2 & 3.  There was one idea that ended up needing to be stretched over 2 installments.  “Enough with the movie references, get on with it.”  If you read any of the links above, you’ll get why I did it.  It’s a throwback.

(Read Part 1 here)

We moved to O’Fallon, MO in January 2002.  That seems like a very long time ago, almost like 10 years or something.  Lauren Loften was 15 months old and big sister Maylee had just turned 4.

Some of you know Lauren from Colorado (0-15 mths)–Bizarre growling baby

Some of you know Lauren from Cabot (5 yrs – 9 yrs)–Soccer player, best friend of boys, burgeoning dork

Some of you only know Lauren from NWA (almost 10 – present)–Wisecracking humorist, ninja goalie, (gulp) girl

But then there was Lauren in STL from (15mths – 5 yrs).  Maniacal toddler and preschooler.  She never learned to walk.  She went straight from crawling at 6 months to running about 9 months and never slowed down.  She would put her arms in the air and run full speed until she crashed something.  She would fall down, shake it off, turn a new direction and repeat the process–indefinitely until it was time to eat (She shared the same meal schedule as Hobbits).

So when we moved to St. Louis, we bought a house that had a nice backyard, but no fence.  Would you like to guess what our first priority was?  That’s right; building a fence.  We never let her out in the yard until we built that fence, unless one of us was holding on to her.  Her in a yard with no fence was an unbelievably scary prospect.

Why did we build that fence?  To protect her.  We lived one house away from an incredibly busy street and just a few houses down from a pond.  We needed to protect her from danger and mostly from herself.  We built that fence out of love.

You see, there are two kinds of fences–prison fences and backyard fences for toddlers.  In a prison fence, you put all the bad things in the fence to keep the bad contained.  All the good stuff is outside the fence.  That’s why prisoners want to escape, to get from punishment to freedom.

A backyard fence is different.  We put the swing-set inside the fence.  We put all the toys inside the fence.  All the good stuff was inside.  We built it to protect what we valued and loved from danger and herself.

Into what category do the “fences” (discipline, structure, rules) we build for our kids fall? (I actually re-wrote that sentence so it wouldn’t end in a preposition.  Scholarly, I know)  Ideally, they are backyard fences with a big yard and lots of fun things to do.  They are not punishments but protections from danger and themselves.  We want them to enjoy life, but inside the protection of the fence.

However, our kids often feel they are prison fences.  They stand at the edge and scream and fuss, like a prisoner.  They are begging for freedom and escape.  How do you respond?  As we talked about in part 1, the fence needs to hold.  They need it to hold.  They need stability and security.  Do you know what happens when we give in? When we come to them and say dejectedly, “fine, do what you want,” we are agreeing with them that the fence is a prison fence.  You are giving them parole from your punishing fence. Now, in their mind, the whole fence, every rule and restriction is that way.  That brings chaos for you and them.

Don’t here me say more than I am.  Fences change and move as kids get older and mature.  (I’ll let you know when I would trust Lauren to live next to a pond. Arms in the air running full speed is still how we roll, only now we ride a bike.  I suppose literally rolling)  But you decide when to move them, when you agree that it is time, not when you become tired of fighting or you deem it “no longer worth it.”

Parenting is hard. Discipline is hard. Raising and training great kids is hard. Hang in there. Hold strong. It pays off in the long run for everyone.

(On a side note. If you have a maniacal toddler, you can survive.  Just barely, but you can.)


2 Responses to “Velociraptors Fences and the Rigors of Parenting 2: Electric Bugaloo”
  1. Carolyn Loften says:

    Note to Editor: We survived you. We have stories.

  2. Tiffany haas says:

    Mrs. Loften, I know Charlie and I bet you DO have some great stories of your own personal parenting survival!! Lol!!!  ’surviving’ myself with 4!

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