I always knew parenthood was a learning experience for me... not just in the art of changing an explosive diaper with one hand while ordering your next meal with the other or the art of distracting a toddler weilding a weapon while refereeing sibling wrestling. I am talking about hidden life lessons.
I learned a few things as my precious 3 year old shakes her head at me.
Last week O and I sat down to spend some crafty activity time together. Ofcourse I have to multitask. I pulled a piled of clean laundry to sort through and fold. O frowned at this. But she was excited that Rima from the Rima's Reflections gave her something fun to do - My Pretty Mosaic by Alex Toys.
The idea is to take a pre-designed picture and coordinate stickers to the color and stick. Ever so simple for us... a bit of a hand and eye and attention coordination for 3 year olds.
O set out to do this except she would stick it outside the lines or anywhere she wanted.
After several corrections and me remaining distracted with my phone and the laundry and by then just wanting her to be done already, I turned away so that she could massacre the dancing ballerina to whatever she wanted.
Then she says, 'Mama, did you see... I stick it correctly...you see'?
I said, 'Sure sweetie... looks awesome.'
O: 'Mama... you did not see... I am going to remove it and do it again to show you'!
Me: 'Noooo... pls don't rip any stickers off... let's finish this ok'?
O: 'No, you are not looking... put the phone down and help me take this sticker off.'
I resigned to putting my phone away and setting down to carefully peel that sticker off so that she could show me again.
She goes ahead and tries to get it right but doesn't.
I say, 'O, didn't I tell you not to take it off. Now see, it's outside the lines.'
She: 'So what mama'?
I: 'But it is supposed to be inside the lines.'
O: 'But mama, this is way I like it. See, it's beautiful.' She said this with such earnestness.
I had nothing.
Except the realization that I have begun the conditioning of my child to stay inside lines, think inside boxes so that they can grow up to think outside the box, to use coordinated efforts at all times, to stick to pre-designed ideas and notions.
She completed the picture but now doesn't want to do the rest of the pictures because 'stickers are for fun and to stick anywhere'.
We will try again later, when I know better.
This blanket is what my daughter loves most. Over the last three years, it has become a fixture in most of our family pictures, our bed time routine, our road trips, our vacations and meal times.
A few minutes later she comes to me with the longest face and says, 'Mama, now I don't have a blanket. I don't have anything.'
I say, 'How about I give you this new one...see it is also purple and it's new and it's very pretty.'
She looks at it with a big frown and says, 'But it does not have any dirty things on it.'
I: 'What dirty things? Isn't that good'?
She: 'No those dirty things'.
I: 'You mean lint balls'?
She: 'Yes... that ones... I pick on it'.
Me: 'But why? Those are not nice... this one is clean and new.'
She: 'No mama. Old purple blanket is nice. It has dirty things and I pick on it and it is always my best friend. I want only that one.' Then off she went to guard the washer.
She said this with such finality and so indignantly that I just sat back and let the lesson wash over me.
Very so often BK and I talk about what's best for the kids and how they should have everything. How they should learn everything and learn it the most fun way to learn. How some of their things are dented or old or damaged. The one thing that we never talk about are the things they are learning that we are not teaching them. We are always about the new and the shiny and the perfections and blemishlessness.
But once long ago, we were about the odds and ends, the little favored malfunctioning toys, the just-right broken pieces of collectible shells, the sweet animals with missing legs, the eyeless cuddly teddies, the free toys that came with something valuable, the dogeared book.
Life was simpler then and my parents never understood me.
I bet this morn 3 year old O thought the equivalent of 'My mom just doesn't get it'.
Parenting is one tough lesson.
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