“Alexa, play Eminem!” Graham, aged 4. How is this even possible you may ask? What kind of parent lets their child (age 4) listen to Eminem? Honestly, I was shocked when I heard my 4-year-old son, Graham ask the Amazon Alexa device to play Eminem. It took a few minutes of contemplation to figure out how he even knew of Eminem.
I thought he initially was asking for M&M’s (wrong). Further thinking led to the right conclusion: it is a result of having a teenage brother who happens to be a reliable babysitter. I was initially embarrassed by my four-year-old son’s knowledge of music/pop culture. But then I started to think, who really cares and it is actually quite funny. Graham enjoys the music/rap of Eminem. Ha! He seriously dances to the beat/rhythm of the music! (It is funny to see him dance! Really funny) And the beauty of this age (4) is that no sooner do they start a phase (in this case ‘Eminem music’) the phase is over, and they are on to a new interest.
The older I get as a parent (or as I was called by a new mom a “seasoned parent”–I however, consider myself ‘lightly salted’) the more I see that these little worries don’t really matter. I was a straight-arrow parent with my oldest kids; I followed the advice of the doctor regarding sugar intake, sleep/nap schedules, etc. to the letter of the law. But for the babies of the family (the twins age four– and somewhat my 10-year-old), I follow the spirit of the law. I do what is needed/best as a mother of five children. The doctor’s advice for sleep schedules went out the window when the rest of the family needed to sleep at night. The doctor’s advice for tying to get the twins eating a variety of foods went out the window when at dinner time, I am exhausted and don’t want to fight with them to eat their dinner. (They are currently thriving on cereal and nutella and peanut butter.) The twins still sleep in cribs (they don’t even get out of them in the morning and wait for me to get them out) and sugar is honestly the main ingredient in most of their food. If they want a cookie for breakfast, chances are they will get the cookie. Sylvia’s nickname is ‘more cookie’ as she always asks for ‘one more cookie?’ (I am really working on improving their eating habits, but no success yet.)
But as much as I think my parenting is lax regarding the younger ones, it is only shown through the immediate family dynamic. My older kids see my laissez faire parenting style with the younger ones and it bothers them. They complain (A LOT) that the little ones are ‘bad’ and get away with everything, which maybe true in our household. But I think ‘being bad’ is just the younger ones way of trying to get attention in a chaotic, busy household, just as the squeaky wheel gets the oil. But when the twins and my 10-year-old are at school or on little play-dates, they behave as well as my older ones did at that age. They are getting rave reviews at preschool/school and have much success in sharing and getting along well with others. So in the end, I have dropped the parenting bar, and I am finally okay with that (and my kids are okay too)!