My oldest baby, Jack, will turn five this week, and he will start kindergarten in just a few weeks. I have had five years in this job and ample time to prepare for this, but I still feel like I have so much to do.
I wake at night, panicked that I haven’t taught him enough. Did I tell him about not talking to strangers? I thought one night as I imagined him being lured and abducted while out in the playground. Did I teach him how to lock and unlock the door in a bathroom stall? I wondered, wide-eyed and staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m. Have I talked to him about taking a lunchbox or eating from the cafeteria? kept me tossing and turning another time for hours.
Our old house has a lot of doors with glass panes. The kids’ bedroom has two sets of French doors and we have always known that at some point, one of them would get broken. Last night, that happened.
I had asked Jack to pick up the toys. He thought he would make it a game by tossing the toys across the room into a toy box that was close to one of the doors. He missed, and a wooden apple shattered the biggest piece of frosted glass in the door.
I was furious. I had JUST told him to stop throwing the toys because I was afraid he would hit the glass. It had been a long day and this was just the next thing in a long line of things that had gone wrong. I yelled and cried. He cried and apologized.
I told him I needed a few minutes alone and that my big reaction was not because of just him. After one minute, he snuck in and buried his red eyes and teary cheeks in my shoulder, looking for a hug. We both cried more.
Sometimes the two of us have really good days together. Sometimes we have really bad days together. This day had been somewhere in between. He feels a lot of excitement over his birthday and everything that comes with celebrating. I am busy checking things off of a long to-do list and in taskmaster mode, not available to slow-poke and play around like he prefers.
“Adults know everything,” he had told me earlier in the day. We were in the car running errands for party supplies. “I want to be old like you so I know everything.”
He was frustrated because, so far, I had told him “no” more times than he would have liked. I asked him if he wanted me to say “yes” more and he responded that he just wanted me to be quiet more often.
“You have hands that feel like a grandmother,” he said. We were holding hands, walking through a parking lot just after he told me to stop talking. “See, I told you that you know everything. Your hands feel old, so you are old.”
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