After the Fun... oh, Ho Hum!
We've had some very fun goings-on in the last month. Joe and I went to Seattle for two days for a couple Mariners/Yankees games while Kiddo spent those days in the company of his former preschool teacher, who treated him like royalty with blueberry pancakes and a trip to Cannon Beach with another little five year old boy. Then, Joe took the two of them off for a Boys Weekend in Newport, leaving me to 101 degree heat but a heavenly, silent house. While all of this was fun, those special times leave the ho-hum average days in an unfavorable contrast, especially for Kiddo. It's good to treat ourselves a bit, to enjoy life and the novelty of different places and activities, but oh, the humble offerings of home begin to look too mundane in the shadow of such fun, especially to little boys who like to think that everything should be fun, fun, fun.
The reality is, of course, that life is not always fun. Fun and leisure time is a relatively new concept for humans, especially if we look at the centuries-- nay, millennia-- of toil that came before us. Of course, I'm not about to explain this to Kiddo when he's in the heat of dissatisfaction that he has some or another task to do which is not convenient for him. I won't even call these tasks unpleasant, but will just say that they are not things he wants to do in that moment. I can relate to this on myriad levels, yet I know that trying to express this to a child who wants to play while his mother asks him to set the table-- this sort of "hey, I know how you feel" will fall on ears already filled with his own thoughts. Sometimes, as a parent, we don't get to be the bad guy AND the good guy. "What? Mom knows that it's not fun to have to interrupt what she's enjoying to take care of responsibilities? Well, boo-hoo for her!" No, sometimes I don't get to make any empathetic connection, because it's all my fault that the fun stopped to begin with.
Well, sue me for the hard realities of life. I'm sure there's going to be plenty more where that came from, just you wait. (she said without any glee.)
I didn't wish the hard parts of life on Kiddo, but some are just how it is. Kiddo's started vision therapy and has eye exercises to do on a daily basis. Like most kids with any sort of dedicated practice, some days go more smoothly and with a more optimistic demeanor than others. I've tweaked the day's schedule so that we do these before any fun--playdates, outings, etc.-- trying to get him at his freshest. Some days, he enjoys his time; on others, it's my determination that gets us through. It's my commitment to his eventual ability to read things clearly, my dedication to helping him develop these under-developed muscles. Unlike teaching him to use the toilet, I can't wait for him to be 'ready'...I have to drive this train myself, daily, whether the little passenger wants to go along for the ride or not.
This, of course, carries over into other aspects of life. Lately, the smooth places have been made rough and bumpy, like Isaiah 40:4 in reverse. The little challenges which were mastered so handily a few weeks ago now bring fresh tears and a digging in of a child's size 12 heels. Today I found myself handling his anger at cleaning up his room beautifully-- I figured out the trick was to pretend I wasn't his mother and that he was a preschooler instead-- just another preschooler, and go at it like a pro, with no emotional baggage from the similar outbursts over the past few days. I forgot that everything seemed big to him and instead brought myself to a place of 'oh, that poor kid has a problem! What can we do?' Sometimes, being emotionally distant and not getting pulled into reacting to tears but focusing on the task at hand is the better way to address things. NOT rationalizing. ("You've had a great day and got lots of playtime with your buddy... what's the problem?") NOT explaining it in logical terms. ("Dude, I don't play with your toys and I didn't make that mess?") NOT turning it into a big emote-a-thon. ("Oh, honey, I know you didn't want to stop playing outside and I know you want to eat dinner because you are tired and hungry...") Just dealing with what needs to happen in the moment, solely, and moving on. Because, for heaven's sake, we've gotta move on....
I know that the shadow of kindergarten looms overhead, like the shadow of a hawk circling the chicken yard. Heck, we're all little chickens, even if I do look like a short, funny little hen at times. I do my best to keep my little one interested in what's right in front of him-- look, a worm!--and keep my own eyes on the sky. It's not for him to watch or worry about, although he likely does. I just try to stay present and let him snuggle up under my wing or run off and follow his momentary bliss.
All of these adjustments and recalibration make me long for a simpler time in my life, when I was a machinist and everything was measured more by micrometers, less by moods. The beauty of machining is that when you are trying to work a piece of metal and bring it true, you can use a blade and just work away, cutting off the wobbly excess until it's perfect all the way round and ready to really be used for something precise. Kids, well, not so much. You get all their wobbly spots and even when you try to smooth them out, your gauges are still going to show bumps and imperfections. There's never perfect balance, only something good enough to roll along with until life's next phase...
I write all of this with a smile. I do not want a perfect child. What a bore that would be! And how the other mothers would hate me! I'd be completely unrelatable and yes, the worst thing about it would be simply this one, self-centered reason:
I'd have nothing to write about.