Sometimes my little guy sits so close to me he would have to hop in my shirt to be any closer and whilst it is lovely to feel his little body there and know that he loves being next to me, it's not always conducive to cooking dinner or a multitude of other everyday tasks.
Now I am not saying that he sits by me all day, truthfully he is like a jumping bean and lives his life by the motto "why walk when you can run" - in fact he's often covered in bruises and scrapes because of this (nobody said moving everywhere double time didn't lead to more personal injuries). The thing is, he has a problem with personal space and I am beginning to wonder how he can possibly get past this when I am so often in his face, smothering him in kisses and cuddles.
I was trying to get off a plane once when there was some kind of hold up and we were all left standing in the aisle. Now I am not a smaller breasted woman myself but I don't want to be feeling anyone else's either. So as we stood there waiting in this airless space the woman behind was so very close to me that I could feel her breasts pressed against my back. So I moved forward as much as I could to allow for some space (as you do) and she came up again behind me bazoombas pressed squarely into my back. Inside I was screaming "back off lady" but as it was an incredibly close space I didn't want to make the whole thing any more uncomfortable than it already was. So I bit my tongue and she continued to use my back as some kind of resting space for her boozies. Maybe it was cultural, maybe she just had no concept of personal space - I don't know what the deal with that was.
Whilst reflecting on this story it got me thinking about kids and personal space. How can you expect them to learn it when you're in their faces all the time?? Sometimes when me little guy (whose two) and I have a bit of a tumble and play together on the floor, I will pin him down and say "Now what will it be?? Would you like to be smothered in kisses or tickles??" - he always used to pick kisses but as he gets more of a grasp on the language of the natives he often picks "cuddles", which wasn't actually a choice but seems to give him a bit of a breather.
I have noticed that as he grows, learns new words and develops an understanding of the world - personal space is not something he's actively working on. Any time I am at his level he is in my face, there are no two ways about it. I think, he thinks that's just how it is and as he sometimes likes to play at being a dog this has resulted in my face being licked on more than one occassion.
When he is not strapped into his high chair at meals times he wants to sit on my lap and eat from my plate. I have tried to remove this issue by creating the same dining experience for him on his own plate but apparently it doesn't taste as good when it's not coming off someone else's plate. He often grabs my face and smoothers it in wet sloppy kisses and is always trying to steal my sunglasses ... while they are still on my face.
My nine year old on the other hand has now got to the stage where he won't hold my hand while we walk to the bus stop. Actually, I should say he will hold my hand - just not when anyone else from the bus stop is looking. Although he still accepts cuddles and will magnanimously let me give him a kiss before he gets on the bus.
I guess I should probably make the most of it, licks and all. One day they will be teenagers and probably won't even want me to stand next to them - I guess we'll all be getting enough personal space then.
How do you teach your children to have manners if you don't have any yourself?? This is a question that I often have to bite back before I create some kind of play ground smack down but it is also something that really pisses me off.
I am sick to death of parents complaining about their kids having an attitude or no manners or whatever it is, when they don't actually do anything about it! I know parents have a lot of stress in their lives and I am also aware of the mother guilt we already carry around with us, without adding in the judgement of others. But the thing is you can't spend energy whinging about your kid's lack of manners or the way they are behaving if you are not prepared to spend any energy on actually doing something about it.
This has happened to me a number of times but it really got me thinking about it the other day when I was at Bunnings (somewhere I certainly do not frequent - so that was unusual in itself) and I took my two year old to the playground there because he was harping on about it and I felt was only fair, since he didn't want to be at Bunnings either.
So off we went to the playground which was unusually empty - yay! I thought to myself, I can sit outside the gate and watch him, because I don't have to worry about any issues with anyone else's ferals and he can just run around without incident. Anyhoo, as I got to the kid safe gate and held it open so he could run in, another mother and their child raced in from nowhere and in through the gate. It was not like the other mother was too short to have opened the kidsafe door herself (so I don't think she was waiting camouflage style), for someone else to open it. Anyway, she trotted on in behind my feral but in front of me (as I was still holding the gate open) and she said ....... nothing. I had to bite back the "Why, you are welcome!" I mean would it kill anyone to say thank you?? I spend so much of my day teaching my kids please and thankyou (get your feet off the table, eat with your mouth closed etc) as I am sure so many other mothers do. So why is it that when the time comes to model the behaviour parents are after - it's a non event??
This free and easy attitude to manners came to mind again today with a trip my mother took to the movies with my son. She said they spent so much time waiting for people to stop fooling around and sit down in front of them, stop mucking about with their phones and basically shut the hell up that she wanted to come home for a rest and a cup of tea to get over it. Watching a movie at the movies is not the same as watching a movie at home and if you want to muck about, then wait till it comes out on DVD and do that mucking about at home. I am so sick of people and their inconsideration for others!! Which again reminded me of how uncommon manners appear to be now days and the fact that we are still teaching them to our kids.
So where are we losing out? Where is the lesson and the actually reality of manner taking place, short circuiting? It brings me back to our roles as mothers. It is our job to teach our children manners, it is our job to teach our children how to behave in relation to other people as they make their way in the world. So the next time you don't take an opportunity to teach your children how manners work - by chipping them if they are rude (don't just roll your eyes and laugh saying to others "Look I told you they had an attitude" and then not challenge their behaviour) or saying thank you the next time someone does something like hold a door open or pick something up or whatever it is for you - then don't go whining about nobody having any manners or how terrible your kids are. I don't want to hear about it.
I shall get off my soapbox now. Thanks for listening.
Anything getting on your goat lately about kids (or parents) and manners, I'd love to hear about it!