Parenthood is an odd occupation for many reasons, not the least of which is the lack of feedback. You don’t really get an idea of the kinds of kids you’re raising until they’re at least 13 or 14, sometimes not until they’re 25 or 26. When your kids are young, the best you can hope for some days is that they don’t swallow toxic substances or put their fingers in an outlet. Anything beyond that is pure excellence. In fact, there are many days that I answer Preacher Man’s question of, “How was your day?” with, “Well. I’ve kept them both alive.” In my head I’m thinking and that’s about all I could hope for today.
As you can see, it’s hard to tell how you’re doing as a parent when your kids are babies and toddlers. Some days I think I’m being too tough on them and placing unattainable behavioral expectations against which they’ll rebel as they get older. Some days I think I let them get away with anything and can just hear people watching me thinking, “That kid just needs a good spankin’ to set him straight.” And pretty much every day, I think I need more patience and to be more intentional about the rules I set and my discipline methods.
So I’m writing this post to go back and read on those days when I’m certain I have the most stubborn, worst behaved, most disobedient children ever to have existed. Ever. In the whole wide world. This post is for those days when I’m counting down by 15 minute segments when Preacher Man gets home, and it’s for those days when I lock myself in the bathroom so I can get just three minutes without whining or screaming. Bug has been extremely sweet lately (although still stubborn…but he wouldn’t be Bug if he stopped that), so I want to record that sweetness. After all, it’s pretty much the only feedback I’m going to get at this phase in his life.
1. Train tracks are like gold in Bug’s world, and they are his most prized toy at the moment. As he was playing with a small track set the other day, he handed one to Bear, one to me, and one to Preacher Man. He then repeated several times, “A Baby one, a Mommy one, a Daddy one, a Bug one.” Not only did he intentionally make sure he shared with each of us, as we were counting his tracks later on, he said a very sweet, “Tank you” after I handed him and counted each track. It’s not so much the “tank you” that melted my heart, but the fact that it was entirely unprompted.
2. While we’ve had moments of Bug taking toys away from Bear, I’m mostly amazed and surprised by how well he shares and how thoughtful he is of Bear. I keep waiting for the seemingly inevitable jealousy or screams of, “mine!” but those have so far been rare. One day Bug and Bear were both playing with a portable train track set (thanks, Grammy and Grampy!). Something else caught Bear’s attention, so he flop-scooted across the living room and played contentedly with whatever toy he had found. Seeing that he was suddenly playing by himself, Bug moved his entire train set over to where Bear was playing in order to share with him. He willingly and intentionally wanted to share with his brother. My Mommy heart overfloweth.
3. Occasionally I sneak in a quick minute to rest by laying Bear down for a nap and then snuggling with Bug in our bed while he watches a cartoon. This move is saved for only my most desperate of days, and you have no idea how nice it feels to wrap that kiddo up in my arms and rest for a bit. On one such occasion, I had covered Bug with the throw blanket at the end of our bed. After pulling the blanket up to his chest, Bug then pulled the blanket up over my shoulder and said, “Doe, Mommy.” In Bug-speak he was saying, “Here you go, Mommy.” The fact that my two year old wanted to make sure his Mommy was warm and cozy made me squeeze him so tightly he turned red. Seriously.
4. When Bear fussed, Bug used to say in annoyance, “Shhh! Shhh Baby!” I started asking him to not be bossy, but to instead me compassionate and say, “It’s okay, Baby. It’s okay.” Bug’s version of that compassion is to say loudly (usually as he’s running through the room), “Tay, Baby! Tay!”
So you see. While very energetic, a little stubborn, and a tad mischievous, Bug is not in fact, a demon child. He’s my sweet, cuddly, thoughtful, polite son. Even if he did take a black crayon and color on our hardwood floors and white doors in the time it took me to write this. Well, I’ve kept him alive.