Monday, September 28, 2009

Compassion

Little Meems learned about compassion in her Kindergarten class last week. She happily defined it to me as, "like, when someone falls or something, you help them back up and pat them on the back and stuff..."

Poetry, sheer poetry.

A couple days later she wanted me to help her brush her teeth. She's 6, and we have to remind her relatively often that she's old enough to brush her own teeth, get the stool to reach her underwear drawer instead of making one of us come all the way upstairs to do it, button her own shirt, dry herself off after a bath...you get the idea. She loves the idea of growing up; just not so much the reality.

I (standard answer) said no.

"You know Mom, you could have a little compassion."

She said it in a singsong, teasing voice. And while I've no doubt in my mind she was merely flexing her new vocabulary muscles and trying to get her way, still I couldn't help but think about what she said.

Last night, she woke up crying for me. Once in her room, she informed me that she was cold. She wanted me to pull her the blankets over her.

I started to react...and then, like a whisper on the wind..."compassion."

Ignoring her dramatic moaning and groaning (I comfort myself with her imagined Oscar speech where she thanks me for all I've done for her) I arranged her covers, put socks on her chilly feet, rubbed her little cheek, gave her kisses and tucked her in like a burrito.

A little later, still awake, my husband and I heard her making creaky door noises in her room. Quite loudly. My hubby exclaimed "that child has lost her mind."

But I just smiled. I realized that instead of haunted house noises, we could be listening to hysteric, whiny moaning and groaning, had an argument ensued at her request. Instead, she was a happy, warm little girl trying to find a creaky melody.

In that moment, I admitted that she still needs to be babied, just a little bit. Because while she's ready to grow up, she's not ready to be all grown up. But what she also needs is a little more patience (and therefore compassion) with her process of doing so.

Besides, it turns out I'm not ready either.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's Not Shamich, It's Shamich!

My 7-year-old son told me he needed some "prahbacy" this morning. "Privacy" for all you regular, non 7-year-old folk.

I started thinking about all the funny things they say when they're little and trying to figure out big words, just like they're trying to figure out the big world in which those big words live.

Fridgerfridger = refigerater
libulit = little bit
wuuuun minee = one minute
nahwynowinaminah = not right now, in a minute (it took us a REALLY long time to figure this one out)
i'm noying you = either "i'm annoying you" or "i'm ignoring you" - not sure which
bemember? = remember?
in a wipe = in Hawaii

The summer before Will started Kindergarten, he suddenly became very smart. Therefore, he felt compelled to share his sudden sophistication and intelligence with his far less worldly younger sister. In his newly found infinite wisdom, he condescended to correct her speaking on a regular basis.

My favorite examples:
She, as many kids do, said "shamich" instead of "sandwich." One day I walked in on Will correcting her, as (to her credit) she tried very earnestly to say it the way he was instructing.
Him: "It's not shamich, it's shamich!"
Her: "shamich"
Over and over. He had lost his teeth in front and didn't realize he said his "s" like "sh." Nevermind he was trying to say "samich," which is still wrong. Poor little girl was so confused.

One night I took them to Burger King for dinner. Excitement abounded in the back seat, and Meems, unable to contain herself, shouted with glee "I so cited we going to Burger Game!"
Will, with the air of exasperation that became all too familiar that summer, corrected her.
"It's not Burger GAME, it's Burger KEEM."

Oh worldly little one, I hope school can handle your beautiful mind.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Mother's Love

Can anyone offer a fiercer love than the love a mother has for her children? You know, sometimes I'm amazed that I'm someone's mother -- times 3! And I'm madly in love with each one of them.

We tend to think of the expression "mother's love" in broad terms, or at least I always did (before becoming one). Mother's love can turn a troubled child around. Mother's love is strong enough to protect her little ones from harm's way, whatever the cost. Mother's love can heal all wounds. Mother's love is unsurpassed by all others.

Personally, I've come to realize that "mother's love" is most potent in little, everyday ways.

The way my son's hand barely grasps the sides of the dentist's chair as he's about to get his tooth pulled. I know he's a little anxious, no matter how calm he seems. That little movement, imperceptible to anyone else but me, conveys the bravery he doesn't necessarily feel, but is trying to muster. As I sit in the dentist's office witnessing this, I tear up. It's all I can do not to walk over and scoop him up in my arms. But he's almost 8, and, as hard as it is for me to curb my maternal instincts, I settle for a little hug after it's over. That catch in your throat when you instinctively feel your child's anxiety -- that's a mother's love.

Or the way my daughter spoke to all of her friends on the soccer field the other day. The other mothers merely assumed she was a friendly little girl. Only I knew the struggle the last year has been for her -- being moved back from Kindergarten to a JK program, having to make a whole new set of friends (who weren't always that nice), her confidence dashed by a series of circumstances that were just too much for her little 5-year old self. And here she was, after all the worry and despair and disappointments, with this sudden confidence. I caught a glimpse of the little girl I hadn't seen in a whole year. The relief, the pride and amazement and peace I felt...that's a mother's love.

This morning my 3-year old was trying to learn the names of Snap, Crackle and Pop. He was sitting, all alone, at the breakfast table, his brother and sister having long ago finished and departed to get dressed. He practiced them, over and over, to himself. I heard him whispering their names as he pointed at each one on the box. He was so serious and determined to learn something new. When he got them right, he gave me this little shy, sly smile. It's ridiculous, but the little gush of love I got after observing the intense determination to learn something new...well, you know.

Sometimes, the little things are really not that little after all. Maybe that applies to people, too.