I have been lucky enough to have my 5 year old home a couple days a week this month. Since my work seemed to peter off a little in December, I found myself wanting to keep my littlest boy home a little more. And he wanted to stay home too. It was sweet, and I began to dream up little things we’d do together. It was all so cute. We would eat breakfast together and read, my favorite thing. We would do crafts and play at the park and laugh and hug. I couldn’t wait.
Well, it’s been two weeks, and today it’s 7:14. He’s been up 45 minutes, and I’m wondering if I can find him a school to attend before 8:15 this morning.
He woke up early because he heard my oldest telling me that he had been woken up my youngest. My youngest interjected from his bedroom, which is not even close to where my older son and I were talking. He interjected to tell us that he fell off the bed on the way to the bathroom. He had not been noisy.
It’s all incidental, but that’s my point. Then he asked me to fish 45 little tiny finger puppets from behind his bed, against the wall, before he got out of bed. He joined my oldest and I for breakfast, where, yes, I read. And while I struggled through two pages of a book, he interrupted me 16 times. He was making toast right with us, and it warranted 16 questions and responses from me. Now he wants to know if we can play chess all day. No, literally, all day. So not gonna happen.
Last week, during one of our precious days home together, my son had a fit when he lost to me at chess, not a little yell. He threw down–onto the ground. Later that day, he wailed all the way through Costco, while I systematically took his “special” foods out of the cart, telling him he would get nothing if he didn’t stop wailing for no reason. He yelled louder with each item I removed. The teacher at school said he never acts like this at school. Cue shock on my face.
Now the killer at the end of all this is that this child has the most fabulously enjoyable personality. If I need a laugh, he will always run across the room to hug me or tell me I am beautiful and wonderful for no reason. He laughs with his whole body and his face registers every bit of wonder he feels on a daily basis. I sometimes wonder if I live vicariously through his emoting being. He wants everyone to be happy, most of the time—except maybe me, when we’re home together alone.
And I realize there is this very weird bond we have with our children. It’s as if the more time we spend together as they grow older, the more they push back for no reason, the more they nag or whine or complain. And then I realize that I would probably feel this way about any human being I spent so much time with. But the beauty of adults is that they know how to gracefully depart and act as if they are not irritated by the sound of your voice or tired of your stories or unable to deal with your–whatever it is. Children do not. They just whine back.
Sadly, and with the greatest length of denial, I realize I am not the most easy-going effortless personality in the world when I am with my children. I only feel that way nowadays when I am by myself, whether it’s locked in the bathroom to create the moment, or in the car on the way to an appointment, singing my favorite songs. THEN and only them am I the effortless, easy-going creature I imagine myself to be. And then I dream once again of the lovely moments I will have with my children when I return to them. It’s a nice cycle, I suppose.
So as I search for more school time for my son and more alone time for myself, I realize it is the best for all. And to celebrate next week, I will be alone to work for the first time in weeks. I will celebrate the person I am alone and await my little wonders’ return from school, where we will love and fight and create intermittent moments of utter joy. Happy Friday, my friends, my favorite mothers, my colleagues in the job of raising children.