Saturday, February 2, 2008

be amused

A mom the other day used a phrase that got me thinking about parenting in general. She was in with her second child, a 3 year old girl, and when I asked about how she was doing, she said "I'm amused by her sometimes".
To be amused is a good thing. It can be a bad thing if one is amused by worthless endeavors like TV, video games, and other activities that further no cause other than to take up time. In fact, "amuse" comes from the greek word muse, which means to think, and the a is added up front to make it a negative, or to not think. So, in digression and to end said digression, sometimes amuse isn't a good thing, or is at least a thing that should be done with care and with limits. However, in this case, amuse is a good thing in my opinion. 
To be amused, we are usually watching something or someone, though sometimes we are participating, but that takes it to enjoy vs. amuse, so for my point, I would use amuse as a spectating word. I like to tell parents that they need to detach from their kids every once in a while, in certain situations. Step back. Look from afar. Spectate. Not on a soccer field or basketball court or baseball diamond or gym floor or any number of places where you go and expect to watch, though watching seems far from many parents' minds in these situations as they yell and scream at players and refs and kids while making fools of themselves for others to spectate.
Distance is a good thing in some cases. It allows us to appreciate things in perspective. Sometimes we have trouble seeing the forest for the trees if we're in the middle of a situation that some distance would clarify. This is not an easy thing to do, however. We are sometimes said to be "too close" to a situation, so I guess some distance or detachment is a good thing. Sure, we can get too far away, uninvolved to any extent. If I haven't blogged about it before, it's all about balance. This is one of those situations. You can be too close or too far away. Only you can decide the right distance or closeness for a given circumstance.
There is a great article by Brett Paesel in Wondertime magazine (March 2008) called in praise of lazy parenting, and it summarizes the amusement/detachment issue succinctly and humorously and is in agreement with my own laissez faire attitude to parenting toddlers and up.
So...go be amused by your kids. Enjoy them for who and what they are. Don't spend all your time trying to make them who you think they should be. If you're not amused by your 2 and 3 year olds, you are really going to hate the teenage years. 

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