So here’s the thing about your first parenting friends. They are going through everything with you, because they are learning too. You have babies, they have babies. And in the beginning, everyone struggles with the same things. Sleep, eating, not sleeping, cotton or cloth, etc. And you have all these discussions with your first group of mom friends. You make your own decisions, but you allow yourself to be influenced. How can you not? And then, the kids get bigger. You start to have discussions about toilet training, time out and car seats. And by the time the kids have reached pre-school age, you are confident in your style. You’ve picked something, and you’re pretty confident it’s the right thing.
But here’s what I just found out.
Your friends, the ones who’ve “grown up” with you as parents, support you because they’ve seen the journey. So they don’t necessarily mind your eccentricities, because they know you, and they know why you think the way you do. Personally, I’m thinking of my need to get my kids to bed early every night. It could be perceived as annoying, but my kids are early risers, (think before 6 am, even if they go to bed late), so I’m pretty inflexible about our nighttime routine.
But when you move, mid childhood and mid parenthood, everything changes.
Now I’m meeting more experienced parents. We all have two, three, four or (five!) kids, so we are relatively confident in our decisions, and the way we do things. But the flip side of that is that before now, in my first group of mom friends, I surrounded myself with like minded parents, and so there weren’t major philosophical disagreements. We were all degrees of the same ideas and beliefs, with some more strict in those beliefs than others.
But now, I’m in an interesting place. We’re making some new friends, and having some new play dates. And I’m finding that with my son, who is almost four, it is a little difficult. Many of the boys we’re meeting play differently than my son. They have more…boyish toys, I guess. Things that I figured I’d introduce to him, but not yet, right? But then, we met all these four year olds who play with superheroes and transformers and have that whole bad guy/good guy concept down. And my son quickly assimilated into that play, loving all of it.
At first, my husband and I fought the whole thing. No “good guys/bad guys,” we kept saying to each other, late at night, when we finally had a chance to discuss these things. “No guns.” “Keep him young…let’s just keep telling him that’s not how we play.”
But then, a funny thing happened. He took the toys he has, which are things like Little People, and of course the infamous Octonauts, and turned them into all the characters his friends have. And today, he asked to watch “Rescue Bots” on TV… and I said yes.
This is the kid who last week, was watching Bob the Builder.
I’m happy that I’m making friends here. But I’m finding that I definitely have to alter some of my previous ideas in order to “fit in.” These kids seem…older. I’m not sure I’m ready for my son to enter this world of older boy play; I didn’t think we were there yet. My son is having a blast with his new friends, but how far am I willing to go? Where will I draw the line? We don’t love the gun thing, and have told our son not to play guns at all…but then I have my aunt telling me she went to sleep with her cap gun and her doll each night of her childhood…and she turned out fine.
So we’re back to that again.
I definitely don’t want my new friends to think I’m some kind of controlling mom that has all these unrealistic expectations of my three year old, but how far am I willing to change? Some change is inevitable, but how much is too much?