Saturday, September 13, 2014

Great Expectations

I set a timer for Kade to clean up his toys. "Okay bud. I set your timer for 10 minutes. You need to have your blocks cleaned up before it goes off or it will be straight to bed." He asks why and I start to wonder if he's too young to understand. No, I give myself a pep talk, he can learn anything. "If your toys aren't picked up, we won't have time to read books. It will be straight to bed." I sat down and watched him as he picked up the toys and played with them. He started building with the blocks and ran to the closet to find his Thomas train. Five minutes later, I gently reminded him of the rule; "You only have five minutes to be all cleaned up." He threw a handful of blocks in the basket and got distracted again. He was back to making train whistle noises. I winced when the alarm went off and the room remained a mess. His face was utter, sheer panic. He grabbed his toy shovel and started at the blocks, tears welling.

I hate this part of parenting. The truth is, we did have plenty of time for books. There is always time for books and I want to read to him. It's my favorite part of the entire day. Smelling his hair, nursing Ezra and reciting A Fly Went By is my calm. Some people do yoga, I do story time. 

At the same time though, I know he has to learn boundaries and expectations. When mommy asks him to please pick up the toys, he has to learn to do it. I wish I could do it for him forever, really. That's the catch 22 of parenting: you plead with them to stay little while simultaneously wanting and needing them to get big. 

It's hard to do the big things sometimes. Unfortunately, Kade's room is a mess of toys and he went straight to his bed without a story. I think it was just as hard for me as it was for him. Kade is a lover of books. If I obliged, he would have me reading for all hours of the day. Seeing him nurture this love, helping him to nurture it, is such an exhilarating part of parenting him. It's my favorite part. Taking that away from him, even for a night, is pure torture.

I beat myself up about these moments. Now that he's asleep, I feel guilty. I start battering myself with questions: Was it fair? Was I mean? I read to Ezra, was that just rubbing it in? What else could I take away from him that would work?  

At the end of the day though, I have to be confident in my choice as his Mama. Tomorrow we'll try again. I can bet he'll be more willing to clean before that timer goes off- my baby wants his books. 


We did big and little things today. Little walks to the mailbox turned hour long walks through the woods. Long walks through the woods turned painting sticks, turned funky art project. A second walk, close to dinner, turned a two hour stroll and a quick jar of chicken noodle. Sometimes, you have to throw out the timer, too. 

Take your time, baby.

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