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February 2, 2003 - Sunday
This morning we set up Scoop and an old Play Hut beach tent. Not surprisingly, the kids were completely excited as they always are about playing in Scoop and the addition of the tent seemed to crank it up one more notch. It was special, until they started getting a little too rough and moving the pillows that we use to protect them from the coffee table. They wouldn't listen to the minimal safety advisories and it eventually ended badly. It had all started so well and seemed like such a good play for the morning.

This evening, rather fortuitously, I realized our mistake; yes, our mistake, we the parents. Of course the boys got all riled up and of course they didn't remember to follow our minimal safety advisories. They are just boys. Of course, it is one of the infuriating things about parenting small children; that they just don't listen. But, I think in hindsight we should have know better and avoided the situation entirely. That doesn't mean, though, that we shouldn't have set up Scoop and the Play Hut. Those really were good ideas to make the boys happy. But, we should have done it to avoid the problem.

So, what tipped me off? I vacuumed the rug to make sure none of the residual salt and sea sand from the Play Hut got stuck in the rug. To do so, we moved the coffee table off the rug, out of the way. As soon as I was done, the boys, especially Harry, started running in circles around the open space, free from restriction that the coffee table's usual placement creates. His mother and I were just about to move it back, when I realized that it shouldn't be there in the first place if they're going to get excited. I remembered that for raining day tubes, Harry's daycare provider used to clear the room completely, soft edges all around. We proceeded to sit on the floor and had a big pillow fight. Harry and Jeremy were elated, their parents nervous about bad precedents, but relieved to be doing a little less directly and guiding.

When Harry was an infant we knew, and were proud that we knew, that you're smartest when you avoid situations that might cause conflict before they ever happen. We were pretty successful for more than a year with Harry. Then, somewhere along the way we started trying to mold him into our environment, doing more scolding, trying to get him to understand rights and wrongs. I guess parents have to do that, but sometimes you don't.

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