Monday, May 18, 2009

the thong show

I don't think of myself as an uptight or controlling person.

Except that I kinda am.

I have all these tiny rules that make no sense. Cabinet doors must be closed. Left sock before right sock. Sensible shoes for children. Don't call a flip-flop a "thong" unless it makes your blog title catchy.

But i'm learning to let go.

My child loves shoes and especially craves flip-flops. Recognizing that there are very few shoes worse for the anatomy of the human foot, and because they remind me of John Mayer, I had forbidden them. Hence last week's jumbomegatantrum.

And then yesterday I realized that I couldn't explain why I was so against buying my child a pair of flip-flops. It's not like she's going to wear them to run marathons over thumbtacks. They're not inherently evil or prohibitively expensive. I had made up this arbitrary rule based on my own feelings and practicality and was ruling with an iron orthopedic shoe.

Why fight a fight for no reason with a toddler?

So I bought her some flip-flops at Old Navy. $3.25, and she has been a sweet and helpful joy for two days now. Lord, she loves those flip-flops.

And then I promised her that she could wear them today after preschool. But I neglected to bring them in the car.

Bad move.

She pitched a fit. "I don't want to play with my friend, I don't want to go to the park, I just WANT TO GO HOME AND PLAY WITH MY FLIP-FLOPS! AND YOU PROMISED!"

Caught in a broken promise by a toddler. Ouch.

Rather than turning around and driving 24 miles round trip to retrieve the flip-flops and avoid the bad karma of promise-breakage, I stopped at Old Navy and bought another pair of flippy floppy flops.

I still don't like them. But I no longer see the harm in them. I'm the parent, and I can control where she wears them. She thinks of them as a toy, not a sensible shoe for hiking the tundra. I was fighting the flop fight for nothing.

Thus am I learning to be flexible, trying to be a better parent, stopping to examine my decisions and pick my battles. When I look back at myself in my early twenties, I realize that I did not have this capacity for self-examination, criticism, and growth. Everything was black and white. There was no room for flip-flopping.

So how was I able to find the maturity and humility to reach beyond myself?

Most of it came from Dr. Krog, with whom I ritually sliced and devoured a bleeding groundhog on this day in 2002.

Dang, that was one tasty groundhog, y'all.

It's our 7th wedding anniversary today, and I can't help but think of our journey together as people, as spouses, and as parents.

He taught me the value of compromise.

The way to say, "I may not be right, but I don't think you're right, either."

He taught me that loving someone means swallowing your pride, apologizing when necessary, respecting someone's feelings more than wanting to be right yourself.

He helped me learn that it's okay to flip-flop, that beliefs are not carved in stone, but fluid with time and age and experience. And that anybody who disagrees with my beliefs can pretty much suck it.

I still don't like flip-flops, really, but I value the simple happiness they bring my child.

Just like I don't like thongs, really, but I value...

Never mind. My mom reads this blog.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart! Here's to many more fine years!


Lynn said...

The flipflopapotamus! You are too funny. Now I'm going to have that song stuck in my head all evening.

I'm with ya on fluidity. You have to develop it when you're a parent. I still haven't given in to the flip flop thing though. I thought I was the only person on this earth who hates them. But I just gave in to crocs a few weeks ago so I'm part way there.

Happy anniversary!!! What a lovely picture of you, and your husband, and your...dead groundhog? There's obviously a story there....

Jenny Penny said...

Hmn. This post has me thinking. I see reverse psychology at play, and I like what I see -- tantrums for flip-flops, flip-flops over playdates? I wonder what random off-limits thing my own daughter secretly fawns over, and how I can use it to my advantage? For a long time, I had a rule that we didn't buy any thing with an unusually large head (e.g., Bratz, Dora, etc.). Which means my daughter is probably going to marry that redheaded kid from So, I Married an Ax Murderer.

Happy anniversary. Love your cake.

charissimo said...

Niiiice bringing it all back to the flip flop. I didn't see that one coming.

My child is obsessed with camoflauge crocs. Count your blessings.

Caroline D. said...

Happy (belated) anniversary! May 18 is a good day all around.

um, $3.25 for flip flops? that be a good deal. good deal, indeed.

Cleo's Nina said...

Oh my, Daughter...I would feel very badly if I stifled your creativity in any way! But *thongs*? Come can anyone wear butt floss?