Sunday, August 24, 2008

A World to Discover

When I saw my friend Madelyn Cain, author of The Childless Revolution: What It Means to Be Childless Today and First-Time Mothers, Last-Chance Babies: Parenting at 35+, earlier this year in Los Angeles, she told me that now that I have a child who is entering the toddler years, I will experience an incredible world of discovery.

I shrugged off her comment with a, "Oh, I've always felt the excitement of discovery, so I'm sure this is nothing new." Madelyn, polite that she is, just responded with a simple, "Oh!"
Boy was I wrong. I had no idea that long, round pieces of foam could be used not only as drumsticks creating a muffled sound against the hardwood floor, but also used for surfing on the floor.

Nor did I realize that a Radio Flyer Scoot-About could be used not only for riding around the house, but also, when propped on its side, that its wheels could be used as a steering wheel.

Nor that a now-empty and cleaned bottle of laundry detergent could be propped against my ear to hear the sounds of the ocean as if in a shell.

I am in awe and wonder at the way my son is allowing me to discover the world that I often already found to be quite awesome and wonderful.

How We look at Our Children

Today, once again, I heard a woman yelling in the street below our window, "Viens ici maintenant!" ("Come over here right now!). So, of course, I just had to stick my head out the window to see what was going on.

I saw a woman frozen in place like a hunting dog pointing his snout towards his prey. She was waiting for her, I would say, eight-year-old, son to come stand next to her. After a few squawks, he finally sidled up to her. She glared at him with so much hatred in her eyes and then reached out and twisted his eyebrow.

He raised his arm in anger, growled, she glared harder, and he dropped his arm.

I'm grateful to what I witnessed today, because it reconfirmed something I'd noticed in our own family structure.

Recently I noticed my husband, who is very loving to our child, glare at the Little Man. There was so much anger in that look. It made me realize how careful I have to be not to look at my son that way when I'm mad at him, especially when my anger stems mostly from my own fatigue.

And watching that woman today, made me even more committed to always be loving to my son, or as much as is humanly possible, even in the most challenging of moments.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Finding the "Yes"

I always wanted to be the kind of parent that gives my child confidence; I definitely didn't want to be the parent who is always saying "no" and scaring him into behaving.
Now at almost two years of age, the Little Man has noticed that he can look out into the street much more easily if he climbs up on the window ledge. Even though there is a good-sized railing, my husband and I have implement a new family ground rule: the Little Man is not allowed to stand up without us being there.
This has caused him some distress because we don't always feel like spotting him. So, periodically, he's turned to see if we were watching, broadened his smile into a Chesire cat grin, and quickly climbed up to a standing.
In these moments I stay calm (so as not to startle him into a fall), slowly walk over to him, reach for him, put his feet on the ground and gently say, "Honey, one of our ground rules is that you keep your feet on the ground. If you want to climb up and stand, then you ask us to be there with you. If you want to climb on your own anyway, then I will close the window. I know that's frustrating for you, but we want you to be safe. Thank you very much."
Sometimes he cries as I speak my parenting lines...but I know he always listens because at a later time he'll do something to surprise me in direct response to our "talk".
A few days ago, I saw him pull himself up by the railing, then slide his feet along the ledge, placing his buttocks as firmly as possible against it. It was an awkward position for him, but he stayed there.
I was proud of him for finding a compromise that I would not have thought of.
Now, don't get me wrong, he still tests me from time to time to see if he can bend the "no-standing-on-your-own rule," so I still watch him like a hawk when he climbs on the ledge. In the process though, more than anything, I want to teach him how to do what he wants to do, in the safest way possible.