I love to bake cookies for my kids. When they were younger, we would make all kinds of delicious treats together, their collective favorite being chocolate chip. I have made so many batches over the years, always doubled, that I have the double batch recipe memorized.
I find comfort in the recipe, the simple process of mixing the exact same ingredients time and time again, knowing exactly what the product will be. There is a constant nature to baking that is soothing.
I find it laughable that not everything in life follows the same rules.
All four of my kids have the exact same “ingredients” in that they have the same parents. If we follow the baking logic, by kid four we should know exactly what to expect, having completed the recipe a few times prior.
That’s not how kids work though, no matter how much simpler it would be.
Instead, our challenge as parents is to learn about our kids as we teach them about the world. What intrigues them, what motivates them, what makes them feel defeated and so much more.
As with most people, my first child came with a false sense of confidence for me. He was a breeze, causing me to believe that I somehow had things figured out.
Two, three, and four came along with the purpose of letting me know that was not the case.
What works with one does not with another. What is a punishment to one is a welcome reprieve to another.
When they were young, one child had to be sent to their room for time out, while another was sat on a stool in the middle of the kitchen. There is no magic answer. What I quickly learned is the truth that what while we know that what works for some will not work for all, there are also those kids who what works in January will not necessarily work in June.
As they grow, and life occurrences happen, this is true even more, and not just for discipline.
My kids father and I split up over six years ago. In that time, we have re-evaluated and modified our custody and visitation schedule multiple times.
It seems that every six months or so we are talking about the kids and what they need.
Just as with discipline, the theory of one size fits all does not work.
The base line is that the kids spend 50% with each parent, by switching every week.
That’s the base. Sometimes a kid will express a desire to stay with one parent for longer. One child would like to spend school weeks at one place and visit the other on weekends. There are so many variations, we may soon need a flow chart to know who is where.
While their dad and I do not agree on a lot, we do agree on this: as long as they are able to articulate and vocalize what they want/need, we will do what we can to help them.
It’s all very messy.
It is barely organized chaos.
From the parent standpoint, it takes putting some hurt feelings aside and seeing what the child may actually be asking for.
Extended time at one parent’s house may actually be a plea for some one on one time. It may be a request for the routine of one house for awhile. It may simply be time away from their siblings.
As the parents, we have to be open to listening to what they need.
Maybe I will just make them some cookies, for whoever is at my house this week, since at least the cookies are predictable.