I’m almost five years into this mothering gig and I still haven’t figured out the kind of mom I am.
I’m way too permissive and then way too demanding. I expect a lot and then fail to follow through with consequences. Super Nanny can’t help me because I’ve watched the show enough to know what I’m doing wrong. But I also do a few things right.
I talk to my son. A lot. Whatever questions he has, I have the answers. Or we discover the answers together. It’s not that he thinks I’m the smartest person in the world (we reserve that title for Daddy) but he knows I’ll listen and answer. I love our conversations.
I also joke around a lot. It’s in my nature to find the humor in everything (note to others: this often results in nervous humor upon first meeting). And Evan has certainly picked up my sense of humor. He teases me a lot. It’s okay. I wouldn’t dish it out if I couldn’t take it. And he’s really into knock knock jokes. Here’s my latest favorite…
I didn’t know you were a nut!
I’m now realizing that perhaps I have a five year old’s sense of humor.
But as we approach this age, I realize that it’s now required that I start teaching life lessons. I mean, I can’t teach them. I have to look for those teachable moments and then take advantage of them.
I had such a moment today and it took me by surprise.
I decided to force everyone to go on a family hike today. The weather was decent for January and we’ve all been wanting to spend more time outdoors and being more active. It was also a park that I had taken Evan to and we had a wonderful time. But today was different.
Some days flow and some don’t. This was one where the dog was annoying all of us (because I insisted on bringing her) and Evan was finding every molecule along the way to complain about. But when we changed our course and headed to the stream he so proudly leaped across a few months ago, he attitude changed and he was happy! That all changed in a matter of moments when he ran towards the stream, tripped over something, and landed hard and fast on his knees.
Screams and tears came next. I was pretty sure I was seeing more dramatics than injury and I was right. But I played along. I scooped him into my arms and took him to a nearby bridge. He confirmed that his knees were just fine but his ankles had been compromised.
I had him twist this way and that and everything seemed fine so I knew we were probably dealing with dramatics. I quickly distracted him with the stream. The stream! We made it and he was there to proudly show how he could step on the stones and leap across.
I went across. I showed him the best path. It was the path with large flat stones that were fairly close together. But because I had suggested it, he had to do it another way. That’s fine. He did it. He was confident. A little too confident if you ask me.
Then he saw another part of the stream and asked if he could cross that part. Dad said no. Mom said yes (thinking, finally, this kid isn’t frowning!)
He showed me the path he was taking. I told him that probably wasn’t the best path and why. And then I also said to please be careful because I didn’t want to deal with a wet child. He hobbled and nearly fell but just barely recovered. I thought for sure that would frighten a little sense into him.
He turned to come back and I reminded him that he had almost fallen in. That the rock was steep and made him unsteady on his feet. I showed him a better way. My husband told him to go the better way and that was all it took. He was determined to do it his way.
This was the defining moment. Did I come to his rescue? Did I bully him into submission? Or did I quietly sit back and see what happened?
If he made it across safely, he’d be gloating and even more sure that he was smarter than Mom and Dad. If he didn’t make it across safely, we’d be dealing with a crying child, dramatics, and a shortened trip to the park.
I looked at him and said, “Evan, you can go the way you want. But if you fall in that water, I don’t want to hear one bit of crying.”
He proceeded. He stepped on the steep rock and for a moment, he had that look of victory. And then he slid and his feet plunged into the water.
He looked at me. I helped him out. And I suppressed the laughter. I looked at my husband. He was suppressing the laughter too. Not laughing at him, mind you. Laughing at the lesson we hoped he had just learned.
We heard a little whining about wet shoes. He was pretty miserable for the rest of the hike. But I know, even as stubborn as he is, he learned a lesson today.