Monday, March 16, 2009

Blog Therapy

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 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.


Mrs. Brown said...

oh, kistin. i can relate SO MUCH to everything in this post. my life as a mom seems to run very parallel to yours. i went through all of this with angus, and still do. you never stop wanting to protect & shield them---and having two up and running makes it impossible to do it all anymore. i swore i'd not be one of those people with a leashed baby, but i HAD to do it. noah was 100 times worse than angus ever was about running off. and running after him while simultaneously keeping the older child safe is impossible. so, relented i did. and it was the miracle cure for our fiesty little runner. we came to dub it his freedom rope. he immediately recognized it as him gaining independence instead of losing it. ebing in a stroller sucks...especially for an active little kid. it is so passive and how do you learn about the world if you are only rolling through it? or strapped against an adult, in observation mode. i think it was the best decision i have ever made as a parent. and it was one of the most difficult. but you know what? more people stopped to tell me what a great thing they thought it happy my children looked, how happy I looked, how much independence a tiny toddler seemed tohave. way more compliments than sneers or glares, that's for sure. it was a training device that worked well & quickly in teaching BOTH kids about staying close enough to me to be safe, but far away to feel a bit of freedom. so, think about that. you've got time before they're both running away from you in public...but swam sounds like quite the handful...and if you think that'll get better with age.....HA! he is 100% the best kinda trouble. in fact...i think he 7 noah may be cut of the same cloth. and that's a lighty fine cloth to be shaped from.

(p.s. i did not proof this because i am in a hurry to get this finished before the spot video ends. this could appear to be the ramblings of a woman marred by craziness with a third-grade education. oh well!)

Mrs. Brown said...

hell on earth. your name? seriously. take time to proofread, holly. urgh.

KL said...

Thank you Holly. Seriously. It makes me feel SO MUCH better to hear you say that and to hear you've had a good experience. I often say that line...the "I never would have thought those leashes are a good idea, until Sam" with a joking sarcastic tone, but it's really to gauge peoples responses. Believe me, I've thought about it. And it's not ruled out. I am hoping that he'll get better by the time Joe is walking. He'll be 3...but not sure what that means. But if Joe is the same, I think I definitely have to tether one of them. Especially if I don't want them living in a stroller. Sam already spends WAY too much time in a stroller. Joe is a little more of a clingy baby than Sam ever was, and I'm hoping that will translate into one of those hold-the-leg-of- your-pants kinda kids. We'll see. I just need to not worry about anyone else but us and what makes us happy. Really. New mantra.

No worries on the proofread. Swam says good job!

anniebel said...

Hey Kirstin, You're a really good Mom!!! A really good Mom. You do what is best for you and Sam! Anybody that knows Sam....well....knows Sam! I agree, it could be a really good learning tool. He could learn not to bolt!! He is also very smart! I think he would pick it up pretty quick if you told him he gets to walk down the street and pick up leaves and sticks with this on and still be safe. Then when you are in the park you might be able to take it off for a while and put it back on when you find he isn't paying attention to you or it's time to walk back home. It could be a good transition for him. I'm sure he'll love being able to walk and explore a little bit. And I'm sure you'd like him to be able to do that too without having a heart attack every 5 seconds!

Mrs. Brown said...

here's me being all defensive and hyper-sensitive about my beliefs on being the mommy of a leashed kid. jeez, i can really get all fired up.