Being a parent can be exhausting. Sometimes the job seems equivalent to beating your head against a wall or some other equally pointless pursuit.
How many times can you tell a child to clean up his room and then walk into the room only to have your foot impaled by multiple tiny Lego pieces before you begin to wonder WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE CHILD AND WHY CAN’T HE CLEAN UP HIS STUFF FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!?!?
How many times can you ask a child to sit up at dinner (not requiring perfect posture, just not lying with his feet on the table), to please stay seated during dinner, to not sing loudly about body parts at dinner, to please stop whining about what dinner is before you finally just say PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE SIT DOWN AND PUT YOUR BOTTOM IN THE CHAIR AND JUST EAT YOUR DINNER QUIETLY AND LET ME FINISH JUST ONE SENTENCE THAT I AM TRYING TO SAY TO YOUR FATHER BEFORE YOU INTERRUPT ME AGAIN!!!!!?
How many times can you tell a child that you must capitalize the first letter in a sentence, that “too” is not spelled “to”, that 7 +8 is still 15 as it was yesterday and still will be tomorrow before you begin to seriously wonder if a) your child was seriously brain-damaged in an accident you were unaware of or b) you are a really terrible homeschool teacher and your kids are doomed because you foolishly thought you could teach them?
How many times do a group of siblings have to fight in one day over issues as crucial as: *whose tiny red Lego is the one that was just picked up off the floor AND
*whose turn it is to go first to practice the piano/sit in the front seat/clean whatever it is you just asked to be cleaned AND
*whether or not the person who just hit/bit/kicked/pinched/farted on/licked/sneezed on the other person did it on purpose or it was “just an accident”
before you threaten to LOCK THE TWO OF YOU IN A ROOM TOGETHER AND NOT LET YOU OUT UNTIL YOU LEARN HOW TO GET ALONG BECAUSE YOU ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY AND I DON’T REALLY CARE WHO IS RIGHT AND WHO IS WRONG ANYMORE?
But then there are the other times.
John went to a Scout den meeting this week and had to give a short speech to his den, impromptu. I asked him what he talked about, expecting something like baseball or swimming or maybe a book he had read recently. “The Cold War,” was his answer. Excuse me? I quizzed him on what he had actually said and it was all pretty accurate. “How did you know about the Cold War?” I inquired. He looked at me like I was dense and said, “Remember, we studied it last year.” Well. Yes, we did study it, son. Yes, we did.
Today as I was washing windows I looked outside to see David helping Ruth up a ladder. She is usually very good at climbing but she was wearing a princess dress so he was holding it out of the way for her so she wouldn’t trip. He has always been a boy with a big heart. Lately he’s been going through a bit of a tough phase so it was a great reminder of who he is and what his heart is like to see him helping at a time when he didn’t know I was watching.
Ruth came into bed with us one morning recently. She was so small and cuddly that it reminded me that four is still a baby, really. And then she and I had a long conversation about warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals. So four can also be a big girl. It’s a good age.
All small, fairly ordinary moments. Easy to miss.
In the day to day of parenting I sometimes get so caught up in the sit up straights and the pick up your stuffs and the please just finish the spelling assignment alreadys that I forget to stop and see how this pursuit is bearing fruit. The fruit is there all around me. It’s in those small moments. I just have to remember to look for it.