Last week my middle child was sitting at the kitchen counter while I was mixing up cookie dough for a class celebration she had the next day. She told me that when she was a grown up, she was going to make cookie dough and just eat all of the dough in bed while curled up with a book.
It sounded like a really good idea, minus the whole batch of dough part, and so I said we should do that. In fact, I decided we should do more than that, we should do all the things we would when we are grown-ups and no one is there to tell us ‘no’.
So today was “When I’m a Grown Up Day”. It coincided with April Fool’s Day, which actually has some history with societal role reversal — and hey, what’s good for the ancient Romans is good for us, right?
Here’s a bit of what happened today:
Eating cookie dough in bed while reading.
Drinking Pepsi at lunch.
Creating art with REAL art supplies.
Here’s what I learned while letting my kids be grown-ups:
1. My kids are more responsible than I give them credit for.
Ipad use was unlimited today. And yet, my oldest stopped at one point because he didn’t want to get a headache. He recognized his limits, all on his own. My girls, who ate the cookie dough, gave up on eating the amount they were given because it was simply too much. They recognized their limits. After drinking a lot of milk and consuming a lot of dairy products, my lactose intolerant child remembered to take his digestive enzyme. Without being reminded. I don’t remember that ever taking place before. Maybe I don’t need to be on them all the time, like I usually am.
2. It is still way easier to do my kids’ chores for them than to get them to do them.
Part of the deal with grown-up day was that they could hire someone to do their chores for them. They had a $5 activity budget that they could use for that purpose. And all of them did to some extent. It was actually really nice to get a break from nagging them to do their chores proactively and correctly. I wondered if this is kind of like when God invites us into tasks, where we think we’re in charge of making the floor look swept and actually, the floor is still a mess and we didn’t do it right, but we learned responsibility and team work and that’s actually what the job was about.
3. It’s good for my kids to get a taste for adult limitations.
With their $5 budget, they had to make choices. I asked them what they wanted for dinner and they suggested pizza. I asked if that’s what they wanted to use their collective money on. And they didn’t. So they decided to have Alfredo pasta with chicken and broccoli. Which also took time to decide, because they were limited by the ingredients we had at home. It was interesting to see them struggle to make the decisions we adults have to make all the time.
4. Saying ‘yes’ is a lot easier and more fun than saying ‘no’ and I should do it more often.
Today the answer — unless dangerous — was yes. I had some limits regarding sugar, and they didn’t get to do anything they weren’t mature enough for yet (no PG-13 movies), but they could ask for anything. I usually say ‘no’ to most things because it sounds like a lot of work. My oldest wanted to go fishing, for example, which required me getting a license and remembering how to use my fishing pole and then finding a place to fish. It took a couple hours…but it was only a couple hours. And it was a well-spent couple hours. I worry too much about doing things “right” and it makes me say ‘no’ to a lot of things that I’m happier and better off saying ‘yes’ to.
5. People with boundaries don’t always know what to do when they’re gone.
I guess this is the case for not sheltering your kids too much. My kids didn’t really go crazy, like I thought they would, I saw instead that they were inhibited. It was hard for them to think of what they would do when they were grown-ups. They weren’t well connected with those basic internal desires and spit out a lot of ideas of what grown-ups “should” do or could do, rather than identify simple things they actually wanted. And all day, even though I had lifted the boundaries and communicated it several times, they kept asking to do basic things, like getting a snack or playing with the iPad. It was interesting to see how given limits run deep in us and we follow them even when the restrictions are lifted. Our lives and souls need limits, but they can easily cripple us.