The K-Man has recently emerged from that all-too-fun phase where he greets his friends by hitting them. Repeatedly. It’s like a precursor to first grade when we show affection with a lovely punch in the shoulder. K-Man would push, hit, punch and just about anything else. One morning, he drew blood with a well-placed thwack in the nose with his sippy cup. Nice. Like I said, though, he’s made it to the other side and is, once again, the best kid in the world.
In the course of these few months, however, G and I got a really good look at the parenting styles of our friends. When your kid hits someone else’s kid – the true nature of that other kid’s parents come rushing to the forefront. Some reacted, as we do when Kolby gets hit, “Tell K-Man that you don’t like that,” with the hope that the kids will work it out. And, to us, “Don’t worry about it. It’s a phase that kids – especially the boys – will go through.” In the end, K-Man and his friends would kiss and make-up. No love lost.
On the other hand, there were friends who wouldn’t hesitate to put K-Man in a timeout (though, we don’t do that on our own). Or worse, who wouldn’t hesitate to give him a stern talk. K-Man’s hitting really brought out the worst in some of our friends. At one point, I think we all went to our separate corners for a while in the hope that the hitting would subside. We certainly didn’t like our little monster being talked to like that, and they certainly didn’t like their own munchkin getting thwacked. So, for the sake of the friendship – we took a break.
I find it fascinating how having a kid so dramatically shapes our lives. I mean, there’s the obvious stuff: No sleep, no sleep and no sleep. But, I wasn’t prepared for the almost complete overhaul of friends. Our friends are now the parents of K-Man’s friends. Or parents from the school. Or mother’s group. Sure, we still have some of our older friends, but most of them also have kids that are K-Man’s age or a little older. So, they “get it.”
And then there’s the parenting style test. It’s really quite difficult to hang with people who have a different parenting style. If you’re not used to timeouts or yelling at your kid – it’s shocking to see. It’s uncomfortable. You can almost see the kid looking up at you with a sense of confusion, “What did I do?” You can explain that hitting is bad, etc., but he’s still going to be two-and-a-half. He’s still going to go through his phases and, yes, at some point come out of it.
When the shoe was on the other foot (or fist on the other hand?) and the hittee became the hitter, I told my friend (the dad), “Aw, don’t worry. They’ll work it out.” And then to K-Man, “K-Man, tell him you don’t like that.” Done. Well, except for the fact that my friend was upset with his kid. Again…uncomfortable.
Having kids really brings out the best and worst in people. If you can’t let a whole lotta stuff roll off your back and recognize that it’s not always gonna be perfect – you’re in for a rude awakening. Yes, it’s important to try to teach our kids the “right way” to do things. They need to understand discipline and all that good stuff. Don’t want the hitting to go unchecked and not ever stop, for example. (And, later in life, probably not a good idea to encourage the orgy/kegger at your house.) But, there are those times when we just have to let our kids work it out. They have to figure it out on their own. “No hit!”
As for the adults? Well, we have to figure it out on our own, too. I genuinely like all of our friends – even the ones with different styles. So, as the kids figure out how they can “just get along,” we must do the same.