Oh the sweetness of giving in
“If you knew your potential to feel good, you would ask no one to be different so that you can feel good. You would free yourself of all of that cumbersome impossibility of needing to control the world, or control your mate, or control your child. You are the only one who creates your reality. For no one else can think for you, no one else can do it. It is only you, every bit of it you.” ― Esther Hicks
My son starts the day with this fake whine. After his father gets him up and dressed he comes barging into my room with his face all worked up into wrinkles around his nose and says, "ehehehe eh eh" like he's throwing a tantrum, but it's so obviously fake. I never know how to react, so I pull him up into bed and grab a book with four pages torn out and read to him while he lays across my chest. He spends most of the morning in this fake-discontented state. He fusses, but not really. He pretends to have issues with everything that happens. Once the boys are outside, Colt has to take away a sharp stick or move Lane away from possibly busting his head on concrete or stop him from pulling the beans up from the garden and Lane throws real tantrums then. He screams at our faces.
A few days ago our neighbor came over with his 14 month old son. Lane gets along with older kids but younger kids haven't been his cup of tea. Our neighbor's child will be in his preschool class in a few months time (a class where every single child will be younger than Lane) and he's the coolest baby ever. He's happy - like - all the time and really sweet.
Lane throws things at his head. This last time I was so completely embarrassed. "We don't throw in the house. We don't throw at people." I repeated to him while prying toys from his clenched fists. He screamed at me, squirmed out of my arms and grabbed another train to hurl at this boy. My cheeks turned red. I couldn't believe he was doing this.
The father of the other child sipped his tea. He didn't move his boy out of the line of fire or look at me in that invalidating way that some parents look at other parents when their child is being a child. He just went on talking about gardening... And he was enjoying himself way more than I was.
I confided about this to Colt's father who thought it was hilarious. After retelling many similar stories from Colt's childhood, he told me about these parents he knew who's children were crazy when they were younger. These kids ran wild around his workplace and broke things and had sticky hands and messy knees and were pretty uncontrollable, but by the time the boys were 7 they were polite and calm and well behaved and he asked the parents, "What did you do? I remember your boys as the ones who broke stuff in my store!" and the parents said, "Oh we did nothing. Young children are on a 10 minute loop and everything refreshes every 10 minutes. You just have to let them explore and by the time they get older they have nothing to be angry about."
They did nothing.
I mean, obviously I don't want Lane to hurt himself or other people, so I'm....ummm...obviously going to figure all that out. But this is the base lesson. The lesson I've always known and never wanted to learn:
I'm not in control. I shouldn't be and I'm not. I'm the observer, the guider, the mother. I'm not in control and it's better this way.
I can teach him (can't I?) not to hurt this baby, but I can't make him like him the way I do or want to be friends with him. I can set basic boundaries like don't stick your head in the oven, but I'm not going to scream when he opens all the kitchen cabinets and pulls out everything I just put away for the fourth time in an hour (I'm not going to scream....I'm not). Because Lane is his own person with his own ideas and as long as he's not poisoning himself or other people I should be letting him work out those ideas instead of stressing out over his public displays of...
of what really? Toddlerness? I spent half of my adult life in a restaurant where every staff member harked on unruly kids. Now I'm wondering if the parents of the 2-year-old who threw food across the restaurant floor weren't the ones way off base, but it was us 20-year-olds bitching in the back. Maybe they had it right after all...sipping their wine...leaning back in their chairs...making us clean up the mess. Ages and phases, ya'll.
Tonight after a full day of wild screams, occasional pinches, many rules repeated and many rules immediately disobeyed, he ran back and forth from the bookcase to my lap for an hour, jumping down onto my thighs and saying, "Read it! Read it!" with this brightness all around him and then "Another book!". He got into the bath without letting go of my fingers. He held my hand in bed while I read to him and rubbed my palm with his tiny thumb and leaned into me when I kissed his nose. And I'm exhausted and I'm so thankful for my evening downtime but I also miss him when he's sleeping so much that I feel it in my heart. I'm convinced this dichotomy is the soul of true love.
I'm convinced that letting go is the soul of true happiness.