i have really been struggling with my 4 1/2 year old son lately. always talking. always making noise. always jumping or throwing himself from another object. always at a ready for a fight with swords, guns or sling shots. always good guys vrs. bad guys. always. non. stop. it's just simply exhausting!
now don't get me wrong here. i am still as much in love with him today as the day he was born, but seriously? all action? all the time? my knee jerk reaction to this all rough and tumbleness is to flee. not like forever run away and never return kind of flee! sheesh! no. but the kind where i take my knitting to a local coffee shop and try to find some solice in a hot cup of tea while keeping both my eyes on my knitting (and not one on my air born son). sure i would enjoy an hour out much like the one i just described, but i read in another blog about the importance of actually being closer with the child that you feel the need to get a break from. this tired mother of six explained it in such a way that made me think, huummm. i should give this a try.
so a few sunday's ago, my mind made up, i told my boy we'd be going on a mommy and son date after he took a nap. mistake number one. questions of where we'd be going and why wasn't daddy also coming kept him up from any nap. finally i let him get out of bed and we headed to the local twin kiss for ice cream. my heart already bruised by his "i wish daddy were taking me" comment i decided we were gonna enjoy this even if it did feel forced. he ordered a vanilla soft serve twist with rainbow sprinkles. the sprinkles were my add on feeling the need to inject excitement and enthusiasm. i order a hot fudge sunday. the ice cream was cold and so was the inside of the twin kiss and as it turns out my son doesn't like sprinkles and neither do i.
the best part of our date out was the old juke box. i scrounged for a quarter only to find that the juke box didn't play "blessed be the name" mikey's favorite song. in fact i read the titles to my small boy with very red checks forgetting that we live in a predominately secular world. we settled on the theme song to alvin and the chipmunks even though i felt the movie was inappropriate for small children.
i handed him the quarter and held him up to push the buttons. my hope was for him to watch the record be selected and dropped onto the turn table. his face light up with the drop of the quarter and the juke box light up like a Christmas tree. he push in the numbers. one thirty eight. nothing happened. the lights blinked a few times and went out like some one pulled the plug. we waited. i pushed the coin return button. we waited some more.
"what's gonna happen?" he asked filled with anticipation.
"i don't think it works buddy." i set him back down on his feet and walked over to our table. he stood in front of the juke box waiting. poor little guy. he didn't even know what he was missing. i called to him and motioned for him to sit with me. he came to the table and told me he was done with his ice cream. he wasn't even to the cone yet. i had eaten my whipped cream, already given him the cherry while reading song titles to him, and the hot fudge had started to harden. i decided i was done too. we left tossing our not even half eaten ice cream in the trash can.
feeling defeated i thought we'd never connect again and that my boy was gonna always slightly bug me with nonstop chatter about death of the swords or sling shots. on the way home i shared a piece of spearmint chewing gum. the same flavor i was given in church on sunday evenings by my nana years ago. the car ride was quiet with chewing.
i thought to myself. the silence is strange. nice but strange. suddenly i wondered if my asking him to go play quietly without reporting back to me all the details of his war with plastic guys was my setting us up for a distance. shouldn't i be eager to listen to his play? shouldn't i at least be pretending to enjoy hearing about how one guy stabbed another guy in the birdy? (uuugh, that's the worst one! although i must admit funny ) aren't these the times that are nurturing in him the knowledge that he can come to mom and dad and tell them everything and they will listen or guide him gently? if i start telling him now, at four years of age, that i didn't need to hear his every thought, who will he go tell things to when he's older? when his thoughts are more real rather then pretend? who will tell him then that it's not nice for one guy to be stabbing another in the birdy?
while practicing silence a few times each day is healthy and yes mommy does need a break every now and then, i had made up my mind. when my boy wanted to tell me something. i wanted to listen. when my boy wanted to share with me i would be more glad and feel more appreciative of it. longing for silence now is foolish for i know one day the house will be quiet, kids long gone and i'll be a mess crying on the couch wishing only to hear my boy running at the mouth and making crazy sounds and telling all the gory details of the battle that just took place in the playroom.
i made up my mind to practice a better kind of listening. a more-present kind of attention-to-him kind of being-right-there-more-involved-in-the-play kind of listening. the kind of listening that doesn't require him to come into another room to tell me what's going on 'cuz i'm gonna be right there with him, in the mix and running around and hurling myself from objects (really? yikes!) making sounds that most adults shouldn't be making. and maybe, just maybe when it is time to practice silence it won't be so forced. like our first date was. it will just simply happen. and peace will accompany the silence and the next date, making it all the more sweeter.