Sometimes our kids throw us curve balls. When we work with them, we run the risk that an unexpected pleasant surprise might come our way.
Like any two year old, Kiddo has become an unreliable daytime sleeper. Not usually, but there’s often one day a week in which he gets engaged and doesn’t want to nap. I’m not one for forcing naps, but those evenings are certainly harder. He goes down earlier, but needs me more while he’s sleeping and this makes for a not-so-great night on my end. So I do my best to provide some consistency on naps.
This morning was busy, out giving the garden a heavy-duty cleanup. The fallen tomatoes have to come off the ground; if left, they cause a special sort of ‘tomato mold’ that basically wrecks your soil. The giant bristly green squash leaves were grey and dusty-looking and needed to be cut off, exposing the vine and extending the time our plant will stay healthy and producing. Lots of pesky weeds could be found and I’m still not done with them. And please, don’t ask about the crabgrass.
My son is nearly two and a half and is starting to do as he darn well pleases. Yesterday morning he was interested in the toilet, so we took the lid off the tank and looked in, watched the water empty loudly and fill with that white noise sound. An hour later he must have become curious, because I heard the singular sound of the tank lid being moved on the top of the toilet and despite my protestations of “Stop! Stop!” he pushed the lid off the tank, where it fell behind the toilet onto the floor. A loud clang and a breaking sound followed.
And then twice he’s not listened, not stopped running when I’ve called him. He’s quick. I’m also quick—to pop him in the stroller for a while or corral him on the porch.
Although the porch is another story, because today he climbed up on the back of my bike and threw one leg over the porch rail, straddling them both. My heart in my throat, I said slowly and carefully “Please stop. Please get down. That’s very dangerous.” And, thank heaven, he did. But I’m sure he still doesn’t really understand what all that fuss was about and it might take a while before he does.
You get where I’m going with this? This is the kind of week I’m having already, and it’s only Tuesday. When naptime rolled around, well, I’ll spare you the details, but it didn’t go well at all. It was quickly clear that this wasn’t going to be a day for pressing the issue, so I decided to get us out for a walk. This ended up being a real treat.
We strolled, we smelled roses together, we looked at outdoor lighting systems—a real favorite of Kiddos—and stumbled across a summer delight: on a wide, shady piece of grassy parking strip, a woman had left her sprayer nozzle on as a sprinkler. Kiddo absolutely loved this, and it was fun to just watch him have a grand time grabbing the water. I sipped my iced tea and just drank in the moment, the warmth and sun and smell that the air brings just before the season really turns. It was delicious.
In a lazy mood, I walked us over to Laurelhurst Elementary, where he’ll be going in a few years. Kiddo loves to visit the school; he likes to check up on the mason bees house, explore the dandelions and play on the playground when school is out and it’s quieter. I like taking him over there. I want him to grow up knowing his community, knowing where his school is, and to experience the feelings of familiarity and investment. Today, the school was just the place.
We walked by and spied a small cluster of mothers and children next to a snow cone vendor. The cones were a dollar. I looked at Kiddo, who saw the big kids on the playground and couldn’t join them. He wanted so many things he couldn’t have, like Little Bear in the story, where he tells his mother his fantastical wishes and she says repeatedly “You can’t have that, my Little Bear”. I didn’t feel guilty for the things I had told him “no” to, but this snow cone, this was something my own Little Bear could have.
So we went for it. Light syrup. Strawberry/raspberry was the flavor of the day. (The vendor’s got a good mind for kids like that, offering just one choice. After school, that’s exactly what they needed, not to have to choose but to simply enjoy.) We found a shady spot under a tree and Kiddo had at it. We watched a father throw a football with a group of boys. Mothers scootered by us, coming to meet their kids. The bell rang and pickup time officially began. I said hello to the parents of a child I’d met at the preschool pickup last year and we chatted for a brief second. There was community everywhere, even for those of us who aren’t yet ‘going to school’. It was just lovely to see.
Eventually, it was time to keep going. I felt refreshed in my soul, in some inexplicable way. Maybe it was the sweetness of seeing him eat his first snow cone, his earnestness at trying to figure out how to eat it. Or the fact that we’d had a moment of harmony; that I had something to give him by saying “yes” to the moment. He hadn’t even asked for the snowcone—I’d just wanted to give it to him was all.
And he gave me something nice too. Ten minutes later, he was asleep. I should probably wake him up in a few minutes…it’s nearly five now. How did you think I found the time to post this anyhow?*
*Time-schmime! I wrote this last Tuesday and as you can see, it’s the following Monday, so there you go…