Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The bumps

This has been such a mundane week that there's hardly been anything worth sharing. All my mental blog posts just seem like false starts that peter out before I even sit down to write. I was tempted to toss off a few lines earlier today about how The Toddler had been an absolute mess this morning, a spewing bundle of frayed nerves, and how Her Sister had seized the baton as soon as the little one went down for a nap, as if they were bottling their tears for a weigh-in at the end of the day. Confession? The thought flashed through my head for the 432nd time, as I staggered around cleaning craft detritus and puzzle pieces off the floor, that perhaps I was not truly meant to be a full-time mother. But really, do my friends and family want to read about that? Not so much.

Then tonight Caroline fell asleep in my arms, warm and fluttery-eyed, her silent breaths alternating with heaving sighs, and she was just so beautiful it didn't seem right to put her down. How many more of these moments are measured out for me? Stop, I want to whisper into that rose petal of an ear. Slow down. I just brought you into this world yesterday. Not so fast.

Ian had a meltdown at his AWANA club tonight, and I'll spare you the details in the interest of our time and his privacy. He's been learning some coping skills to manage his intensity, which are starting to help, but we still had to have what he refers to as A Serious Talk at home. At first, he just wanted us to tell him what his consequence was. It was almost bizarre, since I hadn't even been thinking about "consequences" at that point. But before we launched into the S.T., I took some time to snuggle with him on the couch, until Tim, who witnessed the incident, was available. Like I've said, there are two parents in this house for a reason!

He wanted us to let him quit. This request normally throws me into a tailspin, caught between helping him persevere and not forcing something that he's not ready for. But tonight Tim and I both felt clear that to let him quit now would be to enable him to walk away from this hard thing, to back down and take the easy road. I reminded him of his last belt test, marked by moments of uncertainty during and the thrill of victory afterward. The test had been tough, had demanded his best, so that orange belt meant something. He hadn't kicked through playdough; he'd broken a wooden board with his foot. He hadn't coasted sloppily through his form; he'd brought all his power of concentration to bear on doing it RIGHT. Those moments in life, we told him, when your anger or worry or jealousy threaten to get the best of you, or someone else outperforms you, or you have to hear the word "no" when you want something badly, and it just seems SO HARD that you want to run and hide and quit -- those are your "belt tests."

I know of what I speak. I like things easy. I'd rather someone else clean up the craft leftovers off the floor. I could do without tantrums, dirty socks in the living room, and frantic needs for shirts in the right shade of pink. I'd rather my child accept defeat or delay gracefully like "all the other kids" and not create awkward moments with his hypersensitivity. I could do without the Serious Talk and just float from one parenting moment of sweetness and light to the next. No patience or wisdom required.

But want and need are two different things, no? And I need the belt test too. No bumps, no belt -- right?


Melanie said...

thanks , "Coach!"

good pep talk, well said, i needed that

nicole r said...

that was both absolutely beautiful & uber-encouraging. "thanks, coach" -- like melanie said :)

Tracee said...

Yes, actually, your friends would like to hear about your rough parenting moments. It would make them feel much better about themselves. Hehe