By Elizabeth Thompson
Nope. It doesn’t take much to make my day, anymore. Like a good cup of coffee and the morning mail devoid of bills. Or, a rainy day spent in pajamas with no place to go, receiving that unexpected phone call just to say hi and a husband who knows when to come in close or if it’s better to just walk away.
Life is unpredictable.
And yet, I keep reading about how:
”…parents are urged to create a nurturing, flexible, and positive environment where our children's needs are met through their daily routines. Children thrive in the predictable. Daily routines provide wonderful opportunities for your child to learn more about herself, the world, and other people. Daily routines offer children a sense of stability and a feeling of caring from their parents. Be sure that these routines are responsive to the individual needs of each of your children.”
Taking the above into account, I have failed miserably.
Because a few months ago I told my son that he didn’t have to go to school if he really didn’t want to.
He had a restless night, woke up in a funk and cried a snot blowing stream of “but I’ll miss you too much,” enough to set me off thinking. I’m no expert, but I have been a mother long enough to know that the kid needed a break. Besides, it was Friday and it wasn’t as if he was going to miss anything in kindergarten that would jeopardize his SAT scores.
“We want to stay home, too!”
“Well, you can’t, okay?”
**chin to chest in defeat**
“Well, you just can’t…that’s why.”
Consistent, nurturing, flexible and positive…yep…that’s me, all over.
I kissed the girls and they stormed off toward the cafeteria doors in a huff. I yelled that I loved them and watched as my words went unanswered…floating off along with the steam rising from the school’s furnace.
It wasn’t all bad. My son napped for the first time in…well…a long time, and my 3 year old enjoyed having a playmate younger than…well…you know. And they had a ball undressing the Christmas tree and decorating the dog. Later, during a quick snack, I talked to my son about the importance of school and the meaning of taking “a mental day.”
And my two oldest girls?
Well, by 3:00 p.m., they didn’t hate me so much.
If my children are a product of their environment, then rest assured that they will grow up to understand stuff happens…occasionally the same stuff, but different day… and will know how to deal with it, better than…well…me.
Then Monday came and my son’s friend was called out of school, sick. I pulled up to the drop-off zone and helped my son climb out of the car, when he latched onto my right leg and began to cry.
“No, buddy…not this time.”
I’m no rocket scientist, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that he was inconsolable, or that there was a long line of cars waiting impatiently behind me. I loaded my son back into the car and parked, against the rules, in the teacher’s lot. I pulled my 3 year old out of her car seat and onto my left hip, because she was still wearing her pajamas, and literally dragged my son toward the front door.
Thankfully, the teacher’s aide for my son’s class walked in behind us. She listened as I continued to console my son and then she gently grabbed his hand and led him down the hall and the rest of the way to class, as I wrestled with my self-loathing the rest of the way home.
There are 26 children in my son’s kindergarten class. That’s a lot of little minds, not to mention personalities, to nourish. Why couldn’t I be strong enough, committed enough or structured enough to home school my children? How could I expect my son to be positive and secure, when I turned my back on him and left?
I’m no psychic, but it doesn’t take a crystal ball for me to see that I cannot always be there for my children. And one day they will have to go out and face this big, bad and beautiful world on their own. But today, as close to 3:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. as possible, and barring any unforeseen or unavoidable circumstance or delay, I will be there.
I put a tape in for my 3 year old, started sipping on my second cup of coffee, mentally mapped out my day and dropped my cup when the phone rang.
**heart skips a beat**
“This is Mrs. So-and-So and I just wanted to let you know that Glen is fine,” and she ended our conversation with, “Not to worry, there were several weepy kids in his class today.”
Huh…well what’dya know?
Perhaps I’m not such a failure after all? Possibly even a lot more adjusted and sharper than I could have ever imagined!
But it certainly was reassuring to learn that there were a few other families out there who were obviously dealing with a few unpredictable issues of their own.
Go in peace.
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