Today was rather bloody. We had several of the usual scrapes and scratches and we upped them a split head and a tooth-through-the-lip.
I have something of a dilemma when it comes to setting limits around here. I would like to say no rowdy, rough, loud, disorderly, or dangerous behaviors are aloud at any time anywhere, but then what would the boys do? It appears that it is in their nature and so it seems that I must allow some of it, right? But how much, and what kinds of things should be off limits? What kinds of things allowed?
Obviously, the really dangerous things should be out of the question. No playing with chemicals, razor blades, or power tools. But what about hammers and rocks? Should these be off limits because they occasionally smash a finger?
And as for the swing set, I ruled out all climbing across the top of it, but what about standing on the glider? I was letting it go when I saw it, but now we have a split head.
We have a general rule around here: Use things for what they are meant to be used for. Simple, right? Not so to the mind of a little boy. They see many uses where we might see only one. They are very creative that way.
Rope is meant for tying, they reason, and so I can tie my brother up in this rope. Glue is meant for sticking things together, and so I will glue all the pages of this book together. Fans are meant for spinning things, so I will fix my rabbit to this ceiling fan and watch him spin. See? You and I would never think a fan was meant to spin things, but they see these things.
All that is to say my general rules are not enough to guide them; I need to be specific. Just where do I draw those specific lines?
Also, many of things I want to tell them to stop, I realize, are not really dangerous or bad, they just don't agree with my own tastes or what I would prefer. I have often instinctively told the boys to stop something only to rethink it and see what they were doing was fine, just not something I would ever want to do.
So when it comes to setting limits, I find myself caught between what seems to be their propensity for dangerous and destructive behaviors on the one hand, and my own risk intolerance and dislike for all things disorderly on the other.