Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Honest and true

What kills me about the Little Man is how honest he is. We have a mini-power-struggle every morning over getting him dressed, and today I asked him, "Do you not want to get dressed because you don't want to go to school?" He looked up at me and nodded, saying "yeah." I said, "I wish we didn't have to go to school, too -- I wish we could just play together all day, every day." And later, when we had our coats on and were (finally!) on our way out the door, he stopped and turned to me with tears in his eyes and said "I don't want to go to school! I want to stay home with you."

I squatted on my haunches to be able to look into his sweet, sad face and held his hands. "Oh, bear, I know how hard it is. It's hard for me too, to be away from you during the day. But maybe in the summer I won't have to work so much, and I can come pick you up earlier, and we can spend more time together." He turned and sat down in my lap, and then asked me to say that again. So I said it again: "You know how it's so cold out now? Well, in a few weeks it will start to get warmer, and then even warmer, and then I might be able to work a little less, and you won't have to stay at school for such long days." He nodded, and thought for a minute, and then got up and we left the house.

I don't really know what he's thinking. I don't even know if it's a good idea to let him know that summer will be easier, since fall will undoubtedly be hard again (unless I can pull some scheduling strings somehow). I just can't stand how long he has to be at preschool (in other words -- who am I kidding? -- daycare) at his young age. On Friday, the day before what for most people was a long weekend, I couldn't pick him up until 5:00, but most of the parents had already picked up their kids. When we got home, Little Man orchestrated this game where he stood up on the "firetruck" (really it's his old crib mattress, which we keep on the floor in the living room for him to jump on -- this image perhaps allows you to imagine the level of domestic elegance we have achieved around here), pretending to drive, and I had to be the kid thinking every firetruck that passed was Mommy and Daddy coming to pick me up, but none of them was, and so I had to cry and be sad. Preferably quite loudly. I have perfected my "loud" cry.

We played this game all weekend. Seriously, just shoot me.

But I am encouraging him to tell me all about it. Tell me how sucky it is. Tell me how sad and mad it makes you. I don't know much about parenting, but I know he should get to feel how he feels, he should get to talk about it, he should get his feelings empathized with, even if we can't change the thing that's making him sad and mad. I know I want him always to tell me about it, even when he's a surly teenager who's telling me about experimenting with drugs in the basement of the neighborhood lowlife. Tell me, tell me, no matter how ugly. I believe in talking. I am much more afraid of the isolated feeling that comes when you can't find someone to talk to about it, than I am of whatever the It is that day, or week, or year -- than I am about any It I can think of.

So when Little Man breaks my heart by telling him that the thing I am making him do is breaking his heart, I try to respect his broken heart. I can take care of mine later.

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