Mountain View Mommy: Sand, Trucks and Testosterone

February 1, 2007

A single second…

Filed under: Parenthood — by mvmommy @ 6:08 am

As a new parent, I remember reading one of many books about parenting.  In this book they told a story about a mother who was weeding and planting in her garden, and how her son was watching her.  Later she found her son digging huge holes in that same garden, tearing up the plants that she had carefully laid down.   The little boy looked up from his hard work, with a huge proud smile on his face.  He was trying surprise his mom by helping her weed.   When he saw the look on his mother’s face, he saw her anger, disappointment & frustration.    She clearly thought he was being naughty and destructive… so she scolded him.   The little boy was devastated, squashing his urge to help and be creative.

I can’t tell you how many times that story haunts me.  I often find myself in a situation where I am frustrated and I am trying desperately to keep my face from giving away my internal irritation.    I often have to tell myself, they are trying to help even if it’s making the mess 100x bigger.   I know that it is my job to help my children feel confident in the fact that they have my unconditional love and undivided attention.  That they need to be able to be 1 & 2 yrs. old: trying their experiments, making their messes, and taking an hour to complete a task, without the fear that mommy is going to be mad and frustrated.  How can they learn, without trying? 

But sometimes that is easier said than done.  When you are busy, do you really listen word for word, eye to eye, to everything your child is saying?  Do you stop every time they ask you to play, even if you are in the middle of making dinner?

Today I was walking home from the store with my kids.  We had frozen food in the stroller.  It was cold.  I was hungry.   I just wanted to get them home, out of the cold, and get lunch started.

Andrew was riding his “big digger” which is like a tricycle in the form of a Home Depot Front Loader/Tractor (for lack of a better description).   He loves to ride it, and it helps get him to focus on getting to & from the store in a reasonable amount of time.      He usually has to stop every 10 feet or so, to check something out;  it can take us an hour round trip, to go about one block.    Also, we have to cross a very busy street, so I typically don’t like him to get too far ahead of me for fear he might one day just decide to bolt into the street & I couldn’t stop him. 

Today he was coming home and he was tearing down the street ahead of me.  I was trying to run to keep up.  I was just about to yell at him to slow down and stay close to me, when he turned around with a huge grin on his face and a proud look.    I realized that he thought he was being such a good boy for going quickly home from the store.  Granted he was ahead of me.  But he wasn’t being bad.  He was in fact staying far away from the curb like I taught him.  He was telling me that he knew which way to go and where our home was.  And he was showing me where to walk safely with Justin, so I didn’t bump into anything. 

If I hadn’t been looking at him when he was talking… if I hadn’t been really listening… if I hadn’t been paying attention…I would have missed that moment and screwed it up.  I would have been that mother in the story.

Andrew happily continued home, completely unaware that I was having a personal ‘ahh haaa’ moment. 

At the same time, Justin turned his head around to look up at me over his stroller.  He stuck his hand up and tried to twist around in order to hand me his water cup. Even though my hands were full and I was running to keep up with Andrew… this time I was paying attention.

I stopped, took the cup, smiled back at him, and thanked him for not throwing the sippy cup to the ground.  He proudly smiled back, turned back around, and yelled something unintelligible to Andrew.   We started running again to catch up.  

It just was a single second, but I think we all got it right. 


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