This morning I headed out into glorious spring-like weather with the boys. I loaded the stroller with Sam, a soccer ball and squished Joe in the sling to hit the park.
But first we went to the bakery for a muffin.
Yum, Orange Pineapple. Hope it doesn't give him a diaper rash.
After Sam inhaled the muffin, we loaded back up and rolled off to wear the little man out. It appeared I wasn't the only one with this idea, as the park was teaming with toddlers. My inital plan was to get Sam out with the ball on the soccer field and run him crazy. This worked for about 10 seconds, until he saw the other little boys and girls all climbing on the playground.
Sam has emerged from his winter cocoon a full fledged social butterfly. Upon seeing, well, pretty much anyone, he extends his open hand and twists in a turn-the-doorknob sort of wave and says "oh! Hi guys!" It's really sweet. However, the majority of the time, people don't say anything back, not realizing this little guy is talking with so much familiarity to them, a perfect stranger.
So far he doesn't seem to notice or care too much, but it's strange that it always breaks my heart a little. I've become acutely aware that these new adventures in social interaction will be hard for me. Like every Mommy, I don't want him to get hurt. Physically, of course, but it's the little disappointments, the embarrassments, that I find myself wanting to shield him from. No doubt, this speaks volumes about my own neurosis, and has little to do with his capabilities or temperament. I hate that the world can be complicated and unkind, but it's the world he lives in.
And it is complicated. A toddlers desires and wants, and frankly natural inclinations, fly in the face of most etiquette. I'm stuck between wanting to correct every little "less than nice" interaction, and just letting them figure it out themselves. I don't want to let things devolve into a pushing match, but I also don't want to hover over every exchange. Hitting is obviously off limits. But when someone takes a toy from Sam, do I tell Sam it's ok and that he has to share? This is what I usually do, but I worry that Sam thinks everyone has a right to snatch things away from him. Or what if a kid lets Sam take a toy away from him, do I make him give it back if there seems to be no feelings hurt? I usually do. I worry that my desire to please creates a less than fair environment for Sam....always having to let everyone else have what they want, and never getting what he wants.
And then there's the taking of turns and all sorts of playground rules. I think Sam is aware of most of these, and he's usually pretty good at it all. But how do I keep the peace, teach him the ropes but not be the little bickering voice constantly chirping off corrections in the background. It's all so...eh. Of course all the kids are just happy to be running around and climbing, unaware of the inner dilemmas of a overly self-conscious mama.
Sam is really pretty good. I think one problem area that tends to taint all others is that he doesn't listen to "stop." When he is doing something wrong, he just keeps doing it until I get in there and physically stop him. I probably wouldn't be half so anxious if this weren't the case. Today, he ran off from the playground 3 separate times. Each time, my voice got louder as I called (ok, YELLED) for him to stop. But nope. On he goes. Sam is the type of kid that justifies the existence of those leashes you see tethering toddlers in airports. I swore I would never do that, and so far so good. So far. But as he giggles and sprints, and I have Joe usually on me, I get all flustered. Off I run in pursuit, most of the time having to grab him because my verbal commands are ignored. I feel like that crazy mom. The yeller. The panic-er. All the other parents are chatting and helping their children climb up the monkey bars, and I'm off in the woods, snatching mine by the collar of his jacket.
Well I didn't know this post was going here. I was going to write about my new computer and some photos I took today of not children....
Oddly fitting. Welcome to my frazzeled brain! Don't worry, I'm sure I'll find my groove. And in the meantime, I just take it moment by moment...trying to let him be himself, and trying not to look too crazy.