Today I'm thinking about this ugly white plastic stool we own.
Random, right? I know, hang with me.
I do not remember how we acquired this stool. It's one of those things that I can't imagine seeing in the store and saying to myself, "yes! I MUST have this ugly white plastic stool for my home!". And yet, somehow, at some point, this ugly white plastic stool still made it into my shopping cart and into my home.
We've had it since I can remember which probably means I bought it not long after we got married. Almost 13 years ago.
This stool has been everywhere with us. 3 states, 6 homes, 13 years. No matter how many miles across the country we moved, we drug that ugly white plastic stool with us.
I was staring at this stool today as it stood in it's place under the sink in my girls' bathroom. I was musing over how insignificant it is, how unassuming, and yet how indispensable it's become in our home. My girls use it to reach the sink to brush their teeth and wash their hands. I use it to reach things that are up high. Hubs uses it to change lightbulbs. We would really be lost without that ugly white plastic stool. Without even meaning to, that stool has become an important part of our household.
And it occurred to me how easy it is to allow other things, like that ugly white plastic stool to enter into our homes and become fixtures without meaning for them to. Sometimes (many times) it's not actual things, but more attitudes, environments, values and philosophies.
We usually don't seek them out. Very rarely do we think, "yes! This is an attitude I MUST have present in my home!". No, more often than not they somehow end up in our "shopping cart" and well established in our day in day out living before we recognize that they are even present.
It's a tough job being a parent. Even moreso now in our ever present connected culture. There are so many outside forces vying for our children's attention. We are constantly bombarded with what others deem "appropriate" and I know that it is just flat out tiring to always be on guard, filtering what "harmlessly" lands in our shopping carts.
And yet we must press on. Oh please do not grow weary parents! Just like that ugly white plastic stool that once meant very little but now has become so important that we have moved it across the country 3 times without even consciously meaning to, so easily do influences impact our children before we know it.
Today my fourth grader came home with work that she completed the first week of school. Among the many papers was an interview she did with a fellow classmate:
Someone, somewhere has allowed an ugly white plastic stool in the form of a TV show to jump into their cart and establish itself in their home. And now there is a little girl no more than 10 who, during a sensitive time in her life, is filling her mind with all sorts of confusing messages and forming her belief system around what she sees on a TV show.
I feel like it's so easy to check out as parents, once our children move out of the dependent infant phase and even the growing independent toddler phase. Physically they can do so much on their own. And let's face it, after the toddler years, most parents are tired! I know how nice it is to not have to wipe bums 20 times a day or brush teeny tiny teeth. Believe me, I get it!
But as parents we cannot let go of the reigns. Please do not let go! As they are learning to communicate and interact in the world, our children are exploring their set of beliefs and forming what will be the basis for their moral foundation. They need to learn to filter and self-regulate, but they need to do it within the confines of a safe environment. And environment governed by you.
No one else is going to do it for you. No one is going to look at your shopping cart and pull that ugly white plastic stool out before you can get it home. That is your job. Don't buy it. Don't move it across the country. Don't let it become such a fixture in your home that you don't even recognize that it's there, influencing your children and becoming so important that you can't live without it. Guard your children's heart and mind fiercely, no one else will like you.
My friends, I have to be honest, I think you might hear alot about this from me. As my girls grow older, I'm finding myself dwelling on this topic frequently. I spend alot of mental time evaluating and analyzing the influences we allow into our home. I know some may consider us over-protective, but I think the ever increasing rate of teenage pregnancies (we live in a state with one of the highest rates - #5 in the nation in 2010!) is enough of a reason to stay plugged in. And that's not even the only reason! My heart is burdened by the things I know my girls will be exposed to in the coming years, and I am determined to be by their side, monitoring and guiding every step of the way. I am not checking out, and I hope that as you approach these years you won't either.