Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What I wanted to say v. what I did say

When I visited The Boy's Kindergarten classroom recently to see him at work and to help him paste together a picture of his family. The teacher asked all us parents to leave, and he went into a slump that slowly rolled into a sob.

What I wanted to say:
Don't cry. This is the smallest of moments. Growing up and older has a lot to do with figuring out the true size of things (which I myself am trying to get better at even now), and what may seem monumental at the moment will not be worth remembering, let alone forgetting, just a little later. Once I leave this room to go back to turning the smaller gears of our life, you will come back to yourself. You will have a snack and make things that we will marvel at. When I pick you up, you will tell me how much you enjoyed being here without me.

What I did say:
It's okay, it's okay. Your teacher said that I've got to go now, but I'll be back to pick you up soon. Have a good day.

When Q and the boy were fighting over the K'Nex building tools a few days ago, mainly because The Boy said they were playing spaceships and Q insisted they were playing guns.

What I wanted to say:
Look, son, she's just pushing you around because you're an easy mark. She's got you figured all the way out already and can move you around the house almost without effort, like you're on those Moving Men things from TV. Take a look at what she's doing — using your belief in rules and Truth to flip you over — and learn that belief can be bigger than both of you. Do that and she loses her power over you. Besides, Q should be reminded that there are other wills in the world besides hers (though good luck with that).

What I did say:
Stop it.

When Q simply refused to go to sleep last night (like most nights).

What I wanted to say:
Come, get into your bed, it's late, time to relinquish the day. But this isn't surrendering, there's no need to fight the night that's here. Dreams are for stringing the shiny bits of the day just past into a Queen's necklace. And pick your battles. I love that you're resolute, but you need to make out the line between resoluteness and stubbornness, and that line has to do with object, what to be resolute about. My father taught me that mules are misunderstood — they, unlike horses, know their limits and won't overwork themselves. I know that this regular struggle is you discovering the shape of limit and that it's our job to be something firm for you to push against. Which is why we keep putting you back in your bed, and will do so pretty much forever. And good luck with the pushing. Have you not met your mother?

What I did say:
It's late, Q, time for sleep. I bet if you ask nicely, mom will lie down with you for a while.


Anonymous said...

Hey Rob

I love your blogs, specially this one touched me as a mom. I love your "what I wanted to say" but unfortunetly I keep repeating the "what I did say"... Moj

teahouse said...

That's priceless!

I can't wait to have kids.

Nadine said...

I love this post! Especially the what I wanted to say.. vs what I did say. It perfectly illustrates that side of parenting. The side where you transform your message to fit the understanding of your child. Sometimes it transforms into a simple instruction and sometimes I'm in awe of the understanding of Monkey when he gets the longer version.