I’m a bad mom. I yell too much and daydream about spending a week (or seven) on a Mexican beach BY MYSELF with alarming frequency. I sleep well in a hammock, enjoy light clothing and speak Spanish, so it’s terribly tempting. The sound of the ocean weakens, or prevents, my anxiety issues from taking over better than prescription medication or running six miles can do, although those are excellent strategies. I used to keep a journal – in writing, private-style, not a blog – and some of my truest thoughts came into view as I sat silently and listened to the crash of the surf, cool and salty, rippling gray to deep green to dark silver blue, and wrote down what I was thinking in front of the ocean, sometimes while chasing the sunrise.
Now I just listen to the crash of two small people as they tumble and roar through our landbound house. This afternoon I asked the older one why, why, WHY for the love of all that is good and holy (to quote a friend) he cannot get along with his brother, when he doesn’t fight with his friends, and in fact, has developed some sweet, respectful, funny and heartwarming friendships over the past few years.
His response was immediate. It went something like, Well, I get along with my friends because MY FRIENDS don’t break my stuff and MY FRIENDS don’t punch me when they get mad and MY FRIENDS don’t say mean words and MY FRIENDS don’t get too much into my space.
Okay. I nodded. I heard him.
Then later in the day there were these moments and even stretches of time when they played together and made each other laugh and think and smile and I was all like yeah I have these awesome kids before one of them started in again causing me to intervene at some point and use my strategies and my words and then finally YELL.
And then one of them — twenty minutes later – looked at me in his room and apologized. Like a real apology. Not one that I encouraged or invited or forced. Taken aback, we enjoyed a real nice hug and a smile. God I love these kids.
Earlier in the day, the same kid was playing with these tiny soccer player guys in the basement. I mentioned that there were a few more players upstairs, and he nodded.
Mom, would you be a dear and go and get them for me?
I could hear his teacher’s words echoing in his mind… and so I said of course, I would be happy to help.
Later, he asked his brother to bring him a toy from their shared room, and the little one accomodated (he likes to be a helper, especially on his own terms).
Big brother smiled and whispered to me: it’s like I have a tiny servant.
Seriously? I thought.
He did thank his brother for the delivery service.
My boys are keeping it real, thanks. All those Christmas letters (that I adore receiving – really) detailing evidence of the joy and dreamlike state in which the new babies and adorable toddlers on Santa’s laps provide for their parents make me cringe a little, tear up a little, and fake holiday cheer a little. It’s so not all adorable when one’s three going on thirteen year old tells you that he doesn’t love you anymore because I made him hold my hand in the parking lot after he took off in a public space. He deliberately did not mind me, and I confess to threatening — in calm, kind voice — to have to put him on a leash like a dog if he continued to run away from me. He burst into tears and said he didn’t want to be on a leash like Coppi (our dog).
You know those kid leashes, right? I’ve seen the occasional child on a leash at a grocery store or the county fair. I’ve thought they were horrible, and now my kid’s almost four and I absolutely get why people use them!
I’m not going to put him on a leash. The threat is already out there, folks. But if he takes off on me one more time I am… I am… I have no idea right now what I’m going to do. I’m sure there are like a thousand books out there like How To Not Get Your Kid To Run Away From You Even Though It’s A Fun Game For Him And Scary And Frustrating For You, but quite frankly I don’t want to use the Google to find them right now. I’d rather vent, and I love this space where I can put words out there and let it go.
Have a great night, especially you parents as we approach this magical time called Bedtime.
P.S. Here’s a glimpse of my non-minding child during swim lessons. He’s cute, because otherwise we’d have serious problems.
And P.P.S. This is the photo Miles selected to send into the Lego Contest. If he wins, he gets $100 in Legos! He is super excited even though I’ve cautioned that there are likely to be many, many other six-and-seven-and-eight-and-thirty-nine-old-Lego-contenders participating in the competition.