Parental Quality Assurance

Mondays are my day off and are usually a blend of low-key play with the kids, plus an errand here and there. The kids also have a surrogate grandmother who comes over many Mondays, which allows me to do some writing, errands, etc. But she is out of town, so yesterday was just Mommy time.

In the morning the kids watched a video while I caught up on chores after a busy weekend, and then we played. We built a “Fancy Washington DC” out of blocks which morphed into a “Fancy Paris” (pictured here). The Barbies met Strawberry Shortcake for lunch and a trip to the Eiffel Tower, while James brought various Noah’s Ark animals to join the fun.

Caroline and James desperately needed new shoes, and I couldn’t figure out when else to do it, so we went to the shoe store(s) between school and piano lessons—about a two hour window.

I was determined to be focused but not stressed. When Caroline didn’t find anything at Stride Rite that fit and felt good and was less than $50, we went to Target. I hate buying shoes at Target—the shoes are always unorganized and they never have the size we need. At one point I sighed loudly and Caroline said, “Mommy, this is what shoe shopping is all about.” True.

Aside from this irritation, I really tried to go with the flow and not convey that we were short on time, even though we were. I realized afterwards, however, that just because I was trying to be relaxed doesn’t mean I actually succeeded. So on our way to piano, I asked them, “So would you say that Mommy seemed very stressed and in a hurry back there, or only medium stressed and in a hurry, or not at all stressed and in a hurry?”

The consensus was “medium.” I was glad that they put me where I would have put myself.

I think it’s useful, as a self-reflective person, to see where the disconnects are between intentions and reality, and my outsides vs. insides. But I have to say, I can’t remember a time that I’ve ever asked for feedback from my kids. I’m not gonna give them a form to fill out or anything, but it was an interesting moment.

5 thoughts on “Parental Quality Assurance

  1. Kelly says:

    What a great idea! We are always giving out kids feedback – why not ask them how they are perceiving things?

    Today, I helped facilitate a parent ed discussion on my favorite topic, Nurture Shock. We talked about the first chapter, The Inverse Power of Praise. One of the questions that came up was, “How do we model working through failure for our children?” We talked about thinking out loud through the process, acknowledging when we make mistakes and verbalizing what we might do to change whatever needs changing.

    I think what you wrote about is a companion idea – modeling asking for feedback.

  2. esperanza says:

    Oh my. Wishing I had read this *before* I took my two shoe shopping today. Shoe shopping causes me stress on a good day, alone. With the two littles in tow–yikes. A. was out of control most of the trip, and I joined her for a good part of it. R. just wanted out of the stroller. There would have been no mistaking my stress level. I did apologize. Hoping that got through.

  3. Rachel Heslin says:

    Ok, that was really cool. I love finding new ways to respect children, and valuing their observations is a marvelous way to do so — as well as providing useful feedback!

    PS Have I mentioned how much I love your “Parenting Parkour” tag?

  4. Erin says:

    I think that is genius. I make a lot of assumptions about how I am coming across to my kids. They are old enough to tell me themselves how my behavior appears from their perspective.

    I also try to give my kids a heads up when I have a short fuse. I had my third gum graft surgery last week, and, while I am not proud to admit it, the pain makes me testy. I let them know how I was feeling, so they would understand that I wasn’t very patient, and that it would help me a lot if they tried REALLY HARD to be helpful and cooperative, and if they also tried not to bump into my face anymore.

  5. […] day to imagine how you sound from your child’s point of view. [If you dare. I've actually asked them for feedback before, which is also […]

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