It's been a while, bloggy blog. I still think of you.
Tonight I'm pondering boundaries. As a caretaker of youth, I tend to let things (play fighting, energetic games) go further than a majority of other guardians might, but I'm fiercely observant for the signs that precede "too far". Partly, this approach serves my dislike of expending energy as a constant discipliner, but I also think there's value in letting young people feel out the edge. When I do step in, as I did tonight when a small child tried entering a play fight circle, I make the event clear to everyone and then back out again. My hope is to contribute to their becoming free-spirited, yet respectful and observant players.
These are the kinds of simple situations that I feel competent around because they involve rules that someone my age learned many years ago. When I am personally involved, however, and the rules are less clear, I have a tendency to lack boundaries...especially with kids.
Last night the 16-year-old I live with came into my room and chatted with me about zombies for a while. I listened politely and sleepily, recognizing that a young man his age might be getting more out of our conversation than a stimulating discussion of fiction. That is, my uh-oh bells were going off. Here's the thing though - I need connection right now. And even if I weren't in particular need of that, I'm still in love with the interactions I have with young people because they feel so unburdened and safe.
Tonight when his mom came home, she very tactfully, and with an edge of humor, pointed out the inappropriateness of a 28-year-old and a 16-year-old hanging out alone together in the 28-year-old's room. I felt immediately nervous and embarrassed. So that IS a bad thing.
I do well with stated rules, so it's good to have received that message, but I'm also mildly ashamed of not having been solidly, consciously aware of that idea in the moment. Emotional biases...tricky things. That's why it's good to seek external reality checks when you know your brain chemicals have hijacked you to some degree.
I am eager to make mistakes with young people and eager to learn. Tonight's play fight in the park was absolutely glorious. There is nothing like working with children.