Hi my name is Kay. I’m a recovering enabler, procrastinator, grammar hacker… and anger management flop.
Our bonus baby, the little (almost) 3-yr old who thank goodness keeps us grounded, has taught us many life lessons. One of them centers on love.
A couple of years ago, the epiphany hit me that I need to love my older kids the way I love the baby. With a baby, you tend to love without expectation, without judgement, with out grudges. When they spit their food at you, the reaction more often than not goes something like, “That’s okay …. we’ll do better next time – you’re so cute.” Then you clean it up. Simple. Instead of bombarding a baby with directions, admonitions, warnings, frustrations, “wisdom”, you tend to coo gentle encouragements and redirections.
Not so much with a tween/teen. I catch myself barking at them when they vomit a bad attitude at me, without much consideration that some of their selfishness might actually have something to do with crazy hormones and confusion about who they are and how they do things.
I got slapped in the face this morning with my ineptness in this area. It wasn’t the teen, but Slow Walker.
Our mornings are timed to the minute. In order to get everyone to school on time, we must be turning the corner at the end of our street by 7:33. At 7:25, I reached into SW’s backpack to get his lunch bag and fill it w/his crazy menu. No bag.
“Where’s your lunch bag?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well I don’t either.” We do the frantic quick search to no avail.
I respond, “Do you want to take this extra blue one, or a clear bag (I’m referring to a gallon ziplock … I don’t know what he’s thinking.)
“The clear one.”
7:29: I fill the baggie and proceed to put it in his back pack.
“What is THAT?!!!” He screeches. “I’m NAAHHHT taking that!”
O brother! We do not have time for this.
“Stay home then!” I snap. I sometimes amaze myself at my maturity and quick witted come-backs.
“I want MY lunch bag!!!!”
“I don’t know where your lunch bag is. It’s this or nothing! …. Now get in the car!!”
The rest of us load up because the time is now 7:33. We’ve hit the magic number and are zooming toward tardy and possible detention (for the 2nd drop-off). Slow Walker wails in agony as he realizes that I will leave him if he isn’t in the car. He dramatically, for the whole block to hear, cries as he walks, “My lunch box … Where’s my lunch box. … I can’t take this to school!!”
FYI, this is Day #2 for drama. Yesterday was Colonial Day at his school and he did NOT like his hat. Granted it was a Dollar Store Pirate hat. I colored in the pirate emblem with a black Sharpee, so I’m not sure his issue. From a distance, it easily passed as a colonial hat. Needless to say, we held up the carpool line as he refused to get out of the car at school … My patience tank was running low to empty.
Our ride to school was tense at best. In the midst of my angry driving (you know the kind … when you speed up, then short stop and top it off with an overemphasized jerkey turn). I threw out lots of muttering under my breath and some blame spitting like, “I hope you realize the kids are going to be late because of you.” (Ugh – It’s killing me to admit all this, but -wow- is it ever true). I hurled several cold-prickly balls his way … all for a ridiculous lunch bag.
During the ride, I glanced in the rear-view mirror, my wide-eyed toddler caught my attention. Conviction hit me hard. What am I doing?? How am I starting my kids’ day? What is at the root of my short fuse? That last question begs attention. A short fuse for me is usually fueled by an over-scheduled day, fatigue, selfishness … a host of things might be a part. Whatever it is, I’m fairly certain that I’m smack dab at the center.
Did I take a minute to compassionately consider his thoughts. What was at the root of his behavior? He too was probably consumed with himself … not so much about how great he is, but about how someone might make fun of him because he has a zip lock lunch sack.
I didn’t really care what his reason might be for the major heal dig. But if I had taken the tiniest bit of extra time, exhibited some selflessness on my part, I probably could have capitalized on a nice teachable moment. With a little less me, I might have sympathetically encouraged him to the car and included all the kids in helping Slow Walker get over his fear of being different for a day.
I only have five more years with my oldest before he’s out of the house. I have GOT to put some judgement/nagging/grudge bags in the trunk (better yet in the attic) and leave them there. I don’t want to lose opportunities to encourage him through those same fears that might present themselves in a different, outwardly annoying, way.
In as much as they need my direction, these kids crave my love and acceptance as much now as they did in his toddler years. It may be harder for me to give as they get older. But I hope as I look in my rear view mirror at the baby, I will be constantly reminded of this great life truth. Deep, unwavering, gently admonishing, unconditional love is what they really need.
Don’t we all?!
Thanks for walking the road with me.
Here’s evidence of their yard efforts… I’m not sure how they weren’t all deathly ill the next day from allergies!! I guess this shows how you can make just about any drab job fun.