I overheard an altercation between parents of two separate kids in the park the other week. It’s been grating (the word I want to use is 'niggling' - do North Americans understand that term?) for a while, and I wondered what part was making me revisit it in my mind so often. Was it the fact of parents fighting in public, and worse in front of their kids? Could it be the aggression displayed by the two children toward each other that prompted the argument? Was it the raised voices? (I hate raised voices in public. Just a little piece of personal, irrational peeve. I'm honestly working to me more chilled, and less aggravated by the behavior of others...;)
Actually none of the above. It turns out, when I stopped to really think about it, that it was the final comment, that went like this:
"I'm not saying my kids are perfect, but it was yours who...."
The end of the sentence is unimportant. It was the statement about the imperfections of her child that got me pondering.
So here's my secret confession: My kids actually are perfect. It’s true.
This morning Jamie had a huge meltdown about not being able to buy a crappy plastic car, of which we have, oh, a gazillion, from a garage sale. This is just one example in the daily arsenal of things which can send him into a screaming, crashing, running tantrum at the moment.
He is very funny - dry and witty
On Friday his pre-school teacher pulled me aside to 'chat' (oh god) about how he is having trouble transitioning from outdoor play through 'coats off' and lolling around the floor, being kind of 'passive / aggressive' towards others and generally refusing to cooperate (I actually have to stop my self crying at this. Geez.)
Today he narrated a hugely complex, made-up story about a little boy who traveled to the moon for a full 20 minutes.
Two days ago he hit a sleeping Noah on the head with a ladle.
He crawls into our bed at night just because he needs to be near someone.
He can't stop talking for more than 5 minutes, interrupts incessantly, but always says 'excuse me' when he wants your attention.
His ability in logic and language are way beyond what is expected of a 3 year old. This is both blessing and challenge.
The whining, oh god the whining, and demanding!
He is so sweet, kind and thoughtful. So many times a week I hear 'I think that boy is crying because he hurt / lost / broke something. He could share mine, or I could go and say 'hi' to him?'
His big boy body is just so scrummy I can't stop grabbing him and kissing.
Listening to, and acting on requests is not his forte.
He sings. All the time, often songs of his own composition.
He explores new concepts at a lightening pace. This week its 'dreams'. 'I'm just having a rest so I can get my dream ready..it’s about a boy who has a tractor...wait (closes his eyes), I need to wait for the next picture...
Noah is so round and fat that I need to nuzzle him under his neck or on his belly at least a billion times a day.
At 6 months he hasn't rolled over yet... well, kind of once.
He has the craziest, loudest, giggliest squeal - I imagine just to be heard above Jamie!
Sleep, at least at night, is not his friend, and is often in 30 minute blocks. We are all exhausted.
If sleep is bad, being put down is far, far worse.
He is never still.
He smiles with his whole body.
There is a little mewing sound he makes when he is falling asleep.
So, the point here is this. Of course I am not always happy with their choices or behaviour, and I admonish as much as the next parent, believe me. But they do what children, these children are exactly meant to do. Try things out, react, learn the boundaries. One woman I know by sight often comments when Noah is quiet 'Hasn't he been a good baby!' Well, actually no. Neither good nor bad. He's a baby! He is how he is, because he needs what he needs.
So as I get so tired, tear my hair out, giggle, sigh, and worry over my children it helps to think that, however cheesy it sounds, they - their full selves were meant to be my children and I their parent.
I often fall into that parent trap of conviction that my children are unlike any other kid anywhere; more challenging, more stubborn, often more cantankerous. And maybe I'm the one who is supposed to be able to see through all that and realize it's because they’re smart, intuitive, sensitive. Fully whole, fully children. Themselves.