So recently I've discovered a not so fun part of parenthood - when the ghosts of childhood past revisit in the form of your children. I'm discovering it is SO hard not to make my childhood issues an issue for mychildren, particularly when they stumble upon a problem that I had.
Case in Point: Last week William came home from preschool both days very sad because, in his words, "No one would play with me." I always ask him every day on the ride home "What did you learn? Did you have fun? Who did you play with? Were you good?" etc. Well last week he said very tearfully when I asked who he played with - "no one." I'm used to him listing a bunch of names when I ask, so I said, "what do you mean?" And he replied, "No one would play with me after snack. It really hurt my feelings. I don't know what I did wrong." My heart sunk.
You see kids, until 8th grade I HATED school. I was painfully shy, very sensitive, small, socially awkward and horribly bullied. I don't know what it was about me, but I was the constant target of bullies and the one ALWAYS left out when my "friends" suddenly decided they needed to thin their circle. I have feared this pain for my own kids and I have to fight myself to just let them develop into who they are without letting my fears play on their choices. So when William came home saying that, I just wanted to cry. Here I am 37 years old and just devastated. He was able to let it go and be totally chipper within an hour. Me? I couldn't sleep for two days. Overreact much? you're saying. Yes, I do.
So I gave him the best advice I could. I tried to remember how painful it was and all the things I WISHED I had the courage to say and do. I told him if someone picks on him, turn his back without a word and walk away. I told him not to chase them or beg them because kids want to find someone to pick on or someone to leave out, so just don't even give them the chance. Pick new friends or find his own thing to play and if they come around, then HE can choose if he wants to play with them. I told him if they don't let him alone and they get in his face to knock down his stuff or take his toys, etc, to use his "angry voice" (I said, you know that loud voice mommy or daddy uses when we're done with your bad behavior?) and tell them strongly that they cannot treat him that way and he won't let them. I said if it is just teasing or them saying, "Go away, we don't like you" to respond with "Whatever dude. I don't need to play with someone so grumpy."
And then I prayed. I prayed he would have a better week this week. I prayed he would not have to go to school sad, miserable, scared and with knots in his stomach like I did. Because I had to remember that HE IS NOT ME. While he is facing a similar circumstance, he is NOT shy and he is not socially awkward. He is small and sensitive like I was, but that doesn't mean he's me. I had to realize that I can only help him so much and then he has to pave his own way, make his own friends and find out what works for him.
He must have figured something out. Today he came out of school happy and said, "I followed your advice mom. I won't let the mean kids be mean to me. I'm so glad I went to school today." I breathed a sigh of relief and had fun with him and some other moms and kids at the park. And I'm working hard to stop thinking of the next time. If I worry over every "what if" I'm just going to model being a worrier too. One step at a time... one step at a time. Ugh, sometimes I hate this.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Ah yes, Dizzy (Elizabeth) continues to be a whole new adventure in parenting. Lately, it's been those kind of moments you want to remember as a parent. Those funny, silly, surprising moments that I just have to write down because I don't want to forget how amazing it is to watch a child grow.
I have forgotten just how funny pretending can be in a small child, but then there's Dizzy. Lately, she is super-big on pretending. The other day she said, "Mommy, I Iron Man!" and then made her version of the sound of him taking off in his rocket boots. Then she shouted "I flying!!" I about died. A little later she's attempting to hop with both feet (she can't manage this yet, so she just looks like she's doing squats) and when I ask, "are you dancing?" she replies, "no. I frog! ribbit ribbit". This was even funnier because her word for frog sounds like a certain 4-letter swear word and I had to pause for a minute. It wasn't until "ribbit ribbit" that I sighed with relief that my daughter wasn't already swearing at the age of 22 months.
Speaking of swearing... we are at that age with Elizabeth where there are certain words/phrases you just really hope she doesn't utter in public. Not because she's saying anything bad... but because it SOUNDS like she is. One of those is definitely "frog." Thank god it's a rare moment that she sees anything resembling a frog in public... but boy do I wish I could say the same thing about a fork! As you can imagine, the word "fork" also comes out sounding pretty foul right now. The trouble is, whenever she drops her fork while eating she says "Oh! Fork". Need I say more? I keep trying to order things in public that can only be eaten with a spoon.
The word "truck" also comes out sounding like either a 4-letter "F" word or, even better, a crude euphamism for a piece of the male anatomy (also a word for a rooster if you don't know which euphamism I'm speaking of). Now, trucks are basically impossible to avoid in public. They are EVERYWHERE. Even better, it always seems that the age where they cannot pronounce the word is precisely the age where they are obsessed with them. Elizabeth is obsessed with Fire Trucks, Garbage Trucks, Construction Trucks, you name it... and so does she! Today at the park she could be heard shouting "c!@#, c!@3" with each passing vehicle. Loudly and to many giggles. At least most people understand and just laugh. It's better when she at least puts the word "Fire" in front of it... NOOOOT so good when she just precedes it with the word, "big"... you get the idea. I cannot wait until she can pronounce truck.
The other current Dizzy adventure I just don't want to forget is a little game I play now when stepping into my boots called "what will I find there?" You would think I would learned my lesson, kids. You would think that perhaps I would be smart enough to rememeber to turn my boots upside down before stepping into them. No, I'm afraid not. Always tired and always in a hurry (I'm a mom, give me a break), I'm always stepping into them and then stifling a swear word. It's always the very tender part of my arch that finds whatever item Dizzy has decided to place in there. She thinks my boots are her own personal storage vessels and delights in dropping whatever is currently in her hands into them. And not just one pair. Always the fair one, she makes sure each boot gets its own little present. To date I have found a Thor action figure, a Super-Why doll, numerous Star Wars blasters, a measuring spoon, one of my hair clips, one of her hair clips, a curler, Spider Man action figure, Night Crawler action figure, a Dinosaur Train action figure, a teething toy, a squishy ball (small moment of panic there as I feared a bodily fluid placed in my boot), a play fork, rubber bands, her socks, her brother's gloves and an Oregon Ducks noismaker in my boots. In fact, I bet if I get up and go look in one right now, I'll find something. It's like every day is a twisted little version of X-mas and I have a surprise in my stocking. At least it's not food, right? Or a present from the dog...