Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Smelly Green Tent Lesson

A few days ago as I came across an article online talking about the fact that Tori Spelling let her seven year-old daughter dye her hair and her surprise at the backlash she was receiving over the ‘ordeal’. Spelling, the mother of four, said she after talking to her daughter about why she wanted to do it, she decided to let her proceed with both her help and her ‘blessing’.
Afterwards, the little girl said she learned something from doing it—that she never wanted to color her hair again. Spelling said she also learned something—that sometimes it’s better to let your kids have learning experiences such as this in a ‘controlled environment’ (under your supervision); enabling you to oversee the valuable lessons they can learn resulting from their actions.
As I read the article I was reminded of something somewhat similar in our house several years ago involving a smelly green tent. The tent was old and tiny and no matter how much you aired it out, it had that old canvas tent smell to it—something that didn’t seem to bother the kids at all. So every once in a while they hauled it out of the basement and pitched it in the back yard with the intention of spending the night in it.
I knew they wouldn’t follow through on the plan for one reason or another, OR that if they actually did start out in the tent they wouldn’t stay until morning. How did I know? I just did. If you’re a parent you know what I’m talking about.
So what did I do? I let them pitch the tent, load it up with everything they thought they would need for the night, and then said prayers with them…in their beds come bedtime. Well, all except for that one time when they actually started out there knowing the door would be unlocked if (when) they changed their minds.
Now I realize allowing your little girl to dye her hair is bigger than the whole tent thing and I also realize the possible negative self-image issues the hair dye might conjure up. But here’s the deal: Tori Spelling wasn’t encouraging her daughter to change her looks or implying in any way that a dye job would make her daughter prettier, smarter, a better person, or anything else. She was simply giving her daughter the opportunity to satisfy her curiosity about something with supervision and in a loving, safe environment.
I admit when Emma asked to dye her hair “Ariel Red” at age four, I said no. Not because she asked, but because she asked for “Ariel Red”. I mean, seriously, would you have said yes? I also said no to a few other things, too, because I knew nothing good could come from them. I did, however, say yes to perms, yes to bike ramps, yes to death traps…I mean tree swings, yes to welcoming a mouse into my house, and yes to several other things that would have been easier (and possibly smarter) to say no to. But had I done so, my kids would have been left wondering ‘what if’ and ‘I wonder what it would be like to….”
The morals of the story: 1) You don’t have to be named George to be curious and 2) Teaching your child how to know the difference between a life-lesson and a life-altering mistake is best done when they’re small.

Momma D

                              Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.