I must admit, when my shiny new little boys were brought into this world, I certainly had my reservations about allowing their soft and innocent bodies be exposed to anything that could have germs. Hence for Week 4 of the Friso Gold Yes Experiment, I was encouraged to let go of my fear of germs.
In Week 3, Aiden asked for a cat. If you haven’t read that post, here’s the link. Initially, I was quite resistant to the idea. Growing up with a cat (that slept on my head!) through my teens, I know that pets are a great carrier for germs; unless with regular grooming, proper litterboxes… the whole works!
However, a mounting body of research suggests that exposing kids to germs may help their bodies prepare their defenses that offer them greater protection from illnesses later on in life. This is, of course, within reason. We simply need to use our common sense, as not all germs are bad, after all!
In order to start small, we babysat our neighbor’s pet for the day. It was an adorable rabbit with floppy ears. It was extremely tame – it allowed Aiden to carry it out of the cage and Aiden simply couldn’t resist giving it a cuddle too.
Gloves and mask on, Aiden started cleaning the cage by clearing the bedding and throwing it into a bin for disposal. Next, I helped him remove the cage tray and showed him how to scrub it using a stiff brush and some soap. He enthusiastically mimicked my moves and soon the tray was sparkling clean! He even cleverly commented that if cage is not throughly cleaned, it might pose a health risk to the rabbit.
Next, I showed him how to disinfect the cage. Using a mixture of vinegar and water, he sprayed the cage down and wiped it dry. Finally, we reassembled the cage, placed fresh bedding and let the rabbit back in the cage. It was wonderful to see how involved Aiden was in the whole activity, and how it increased his understanding of responsibility. Of course, the time I spent with him during this pet care session was a great bonding experience and an opportunity for me to offer positive affirmations and motivation. Hence, having Aiden do chores like these, can help build his self-confidence and reinforces independence.
Isn’t it amazing how “Saying Yes” to a simple activity like this can be so beneficial for my child?
Of course, Ian wanted to be part of the experiment too. But I have never allowed Ian to touch any animals, what more an outdoor pet. It is simply my way of protecting him from diseases, bites and such. After mulling over it for a while and seeing that the rabbit was so tame, I decided to let Ian touch his first rabbit. Lounging on the patio sofa, I cradled the rabbit in my arms and gingerly extended it towards Ian. Guess what he did? He pulled the rabbit’s ears!!! The poor rabbit squirmed, but it was the look on Ian’s face that enthralled me. It was a look of pure joy and excitement. I thought to myself, “Oh my, Ian’s touching his first rabbit!”
I then took his hand and showed him how to stroke the rabbit. After a few tries, he understood the concept and started stroking the rabbit too. My heart melted… it was such a special moment for me, and a major milestone for Ian!
Check out the Week 4 experiment at the Friso Gold Yes Experiment microsite, to watch those beautiful moments I shared with my kids.
Wrapping up my 4 weeks with the Friso Gold Yes Experiment, I realize now that my parenting style is largely influenced by how I was raised. Being an only child raised by a single mother, I was my mum’s world. Her love was boundless and her energy unmatched. Growing up, my mum was my rock – she was with me through my good and bad times. She protected and cared for me. She always wanted the best for me, and I am what I am now, because of her. And I want to be the same mother for my kids.
And I can be the same mother for my kids. By “Saying Yes”, there are so many things that I can discover about my children just from letting go and allowing them to take reasonable risks. I now regret overprotecting my kids and assuming that Aiden is not big enough to handle responsibilities. He’s become a big brother, who is able to look out for his little brother.
Thank you Friso Gold, for allowing us to be part of the Friso Gold Yes Experiment. It was truly an insightful journey which has certainly taught me much about my children, and allowed me to reflect on my parenting style.