Photo: It just… it just keeps coming. I bet you that we won’t be able to find the little slide thingy by Sunday afternoon!
I listened to one of the other moms at preschool today explain to me that she had to go through seven miscarriages, two of which were viable babies (24 weeks) before she got her precious two. She has two beautiful and sugar-sweet and sincere daughters who I love very much, and I admired this woman before, but to know this about her now…
I have been thinking this week about parenting and mixed messages and I’ve been feeling a little bit guilty about how impatient I’ve been with the boys. I feel like I’m swimming against the current sometimes: I’m really trying not to raise two entitled little children and, right now anyway, the first words that come out of my boys’ mouths are “I want” and then anything and everything, usually in that whining voice that sends my blood pressure soaring.
Yesterday was an especially trying day. I took the boys out to Wegmans because I needed a few things for kinklings and other weekend cooking, and the boys are obsessed with the race car carts that they offer for kids. I’m not usually into getting the gross carts that are “just for kids” but I appreciate that these race car carts keep the boys occupied and they can accommodate two kids at the top of the cart, instead of at the bottom where they fall out or can escape. Of course, when we got there, all the special carts were being used by other families. So Major had to walk while Minor sat.
And Lord did they whine.
“I want a race car cart.”
“I want some cheese.”
“I want that thing.”
“Mommy, I want to get that thing.”
“But Mommy, I want that race car cart. I hate walking.”
Please, sweet Lord, stop it.
From the moment we got into the store until the moment we left. Whining consistently. Wegmans is overwhelming by yourself, let along with two children in your ear.
I offered to get the boys a “special lunch” from the sub shop. We went to the line and they decided they wanted grilled cheese (not offered). So I said I’d make them some at home. Off to the deli counter we went. I bought very nice (and mild) colby jack and munster. I said they’d be great sandwiches. The man at the counter gave them both slices of the colby jack, which they took and thanked the man for. Minor ate his quickly and then immediately asked for another slice.
And whined about it until we left.
And when I acquiesced and gave him another slice for the ride home, he ate it quickly.
And whined for another one.
And when we got home, they whined while I put the groceries away. And while I was making the sandwiches for them.
And when I put the sandwiches on the their plates, Major took 2 bites and decided he was done. Minor just screeched before drinking his apple juice. “I want peanut butter jelly!” he finally exploded as I sent them off to nap.
I exploded. “Stop whining!”
I know that the boys are 2 and 4, they are completely controlled by their Ids, they don’t actually know how they sound, and they are not adults, but… I hate it when my children are given an inch and then go for the mile. I hate that they think the world is on-demand for them and that they aren’t even required to give their patience to the world. I hate that everything needs to be a negotiation right now, that not only am I required to give them all of the goods and services they need but I must also navigate and honor their need for input and commentary at every given moment. I’m trying to teach them how to be satisfied with what they have and how to properly ask for more at appropriate times. Ursa Major is falling into that rhythm of “I want it, so you should go to the store and get it” or worse, “I see it at the store. I want it. You should buy it for me. I am going to make a big scene unless you do.” This is, in my point of view, outrageous. It’s not the parent I am. I know that there are other moms at our preschool who are (they have the means, I guess), but even if I did have the means, I wouldn’t be that person. My boys aren’t Gods. They aren’t presidents (yet). The sun does not rise and fall on their whim. And not all of their thoughts are important thoughts, nor are all of their wants.
There. I said it.
My boys aren’t too precious. They’re precious. But not too precious. I love them. I love them so much, I am not afraid to tell them no. I am not afraid of their disappointment. I am not afraid of their sadness. I wish that some of the other adults around that would respect my decisions about that. There was a time when I’d get impatient with other adults about this: get on the train! Why are we committing ourselves to raising another generation of entitled ass suburban children?
But then I listened to a woman who I admire tell me that it was easy for her to get pregnant, but not easy for her to stay pregnant. Preciousness lost. Many times. And there are women at our preschool who couldn’t get pregnant and spent a lot of time/money/trouble to become so multiple times. Preciousness hoped for. Preciousness prayed for. Preciousness achieved at great cost.
It makes sense.
My boys are precious. This parenthood thing is precious. There is privilege in it. Not every person who wants the opportunity will actually get the gig.
My boys are miracles. Miracles I wasn’t really looking for until they came. I didn’t do anything for them, in context. They came to me. They chose me. They made it pretty easy. They are precious miracles I didn’t work for. When they raise their voices with their “I want” for the 50th time, I hear nails on a chalkboard.
Others hear something totally different. I have to remember that.
This doesn’t change my philosophy for my sons. I’m parenting with different goals in mind for my boys. I have high expectations for their behavior and their outcomes and I’m not going to compromise that because the parenting flavor of the moment is “they should always be happy. When they’re not happy, you should move all of the mountains until they are. Never compromise on their feelings. They shouldn’t and you shouldn’t.” That noise, I think, breeds a contemptuous person. I refuse to do it.
But this realization gives me the kind of definition and context I’ve been searching for lately as I explore yet another level of otherness at my preschool (thanks, Mom! You totally did this to me!). There have been a few times when I’ve told my kid “no” and he’s disappointed and then a teacher or even another mom goes through extraneous motions to ensure his satisfaction or at least a resolution. This makes me resentful (sometimes justified, sometimes not so) when i need to exercise some grace instead. Knowledge can sometimes breed patience. Sometimes.
Sunshine and sleep and not being cooped up with the boys would probably help, too.
That was heavy for a Friday. Sorry, dear reader. Shall I wish for you some lighter things, perhaps? Like more fluffy, fluffy snow? NO!? hahaha. I’m just kidding. How about some delicious chocolate chip cookies instead? That’s my new favorite recipe. Use bread flour for it. And add just a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. And instead of 2 cups of the semi-sweet chocolate, split it 1 cup semi-sweet and 1 cup white chocolate. You’ll thank me later. Maybe I can wish you something pretty and kind from your sweetheart, as big as a bouquet of your favorite flower or a small as a beautifully written note. Actually, dear reader, that’s what I’ll really wish for: simple words from someone you love/admire/care about, expressing something warm and wonderful just for you. Three words or three hundred. Something to touch your heart during this Valentine’s Day weekend. And if you are a person without a sweetheart, I hope you will still know that you are loved and worthy of the love and admiration that many people have for you. I hope that you’ll remember that love and admiration are expressed in a million different ways and, sometimes, the three words just aren’t enough and can never be enough. But a warm smile, a good meal, a kiss on the cheek, a hug in parting… they can all mean more than a thousand words.
Here’s hoping that cupid’s arrow flies in your direction. Until Monday, take care.