Finding a Place to Let Go of Parenting

It’s really hard to find places where Dylan can do whatever he wants without a bunch of No’s following him around. Joshua says maybe I shouldn’t worry about this so much, since we are pretty damn permissive parents. When I forget this, all I have to do is remind myself about the stairs. Most parents I’ve been around don’t let kids play on the stairs and don’t let them throw things down the stairs. But we play games with Dylan on the stairs, including games that involve throwing things down them. So there’s really no need to worry about Dylan being too restricted.

But the desire for places where he can do whatever he wants are also about me. Sometimes I want a break from keeping such a close eye. Yes, there are nap times. But I’m lazier than that. I need more than two hours a day to be a non-attentive parent. Besides, I frequently use nap time to nap myself. If I want an “awake break”, it often has to be while Dylan is awake, too.

Dylan loves to be outside, so you’d think that being outside here at The Wallow would be a fine place for him to run around. But, no. Our outside is teeming with stuff he can’t get into. Since he lives here, he’s had time to discover them all! The barn is full of ladders to climb, paint cans to upend, and heavy things to squish toes with. The front yard has a duck pond, herbs he likes to try to kill, and a ledge to fall off of. The patio has trash cans, free-roaming bird shit, and another ledge to fall off of! Hanging out with Dylan outside here sometimes requires a lot of management.

Off we go into the world to find a relaxing place.

There are a couple of parks we go to and a little water park we visit with friends. Dylan can pretty much do whatever he likes here, and I can sit back and relax. He will eventually run out of ways to entertain himself, though, and want more interaction from me. And sometimes he bugs other people by wanting to grab their stuff and be in their space, and of course I get involved then and steer him elsewhere.

Sometimes Dylan is in a chill mood, and we can do something that interests me like shopping at Goodwill or our awesome used bookstore. He’ll just be along for the ride in the cart or a carrier. That’s relaxing, too, but it’s not the same as finding a place where I can just lay back and read or something while he does whatever he wants.

And then, bingo. Joshua had a brilliant idea.

I’m writing this post from Chuck E Cheese.

Say whatever you will about the shitty pizza, the frantic lights and sounds, and all the naked bids to get you to spend too much money. I know all that stuff. But here’s what else I know: I’ve been sitting in this booth for 3 hours reading and typing away while Dylan has the time of his life pushing buttons, pulling levers, and ignoring me entirely. It doesn’t even require buying tokens. Dylan is plenty happy to just interact with the machines and watch the people. He’s not old enough to understand the games.

When I’m a little stressed out or when Dylan has had enough of me following him around saying no, the ability to settle into a environment like this really is valuable. I’m glad it exists.

What other ideas do you have for a place to completely relax with a toddler?