Dealing with your kids everyday will wear you down. We all know this. We’ve all experienced this. It (quite often) makes you want to rip your arm off just to have something to throw at them. Too much?
What you lose, though, in dealing with them everyday, is perspective. You fail to realize that every time they open their eyes and start to listen, they are learning. They are learning how to speak, act, listen, react, behave, etc. This is exceptionally true for younger kids. Caroline, while still only 6, has started to learn as an adult would. She asks questions when she’s unsure of something and she tries new things to see what happens.
Brian, on the other hand, is still in “sponge” mode. He is constantly learning, even when he’s throwing one of his famous temper tantrums. In fact, if you look close enough, you can see those little wheels turning in his head. His tongue goes out, his eyes fixate on something, and he is fully involved in the matter at hand. It’s so interesting to watch.
A good example of this happened today in their summer art class. Last week, they made handprints out of plaster and let them dry. This week, they were supposed to color their handprints and take them home to their parents. To my knowledge, Brian has never used water-based paint before and when presented with this notion, he looked very confused. But, as soon as he spotted Caroline doing it, he studied her for a moment, and went to work. While obviously not perfect, for a 4-year old, he did pretty well.
Next, they had to color a pop-up book that was pre-built for them. Caroline went to work quickly, seeming to know exactly what she wanted to draw and color. Brian, on the other hand, sat there and thought. What would he draw? What could he draw? To my surprise, he set off to draw a spider web. And he did an excellent job at it. Now the fact that he put the sun sticker directly in the middle of the spider web, well, you know. He’s still only 4. But, you get the idea.I sat there watching him. Watching his tongue flail about as his little mind raced with anticipation. It was funny, and at the same time, it was heartwarming. Too many times, I am in disciplinary dad mode when it comes to Brian. As he is the youngest, he has the unfortunate role of being the kid who “should know better”. After all, Caroline doesn’t do it (even though she did when she was 4). It’s irrational. I understand that. But, in the moment, that doesn’t seem to matter.
When I saw him this morning, however, I got to be the proud dad. The observant dad. The beaming with pride dad. Sure, his watercolor painting and pop-up book coloring were not perfect. But who cares? He was trying it and having fun at it. And when he pointed his big brown eyes up at me, I felt so good, so happy, that all I could do is smile right back at him. All I could do is smile, because really, I was holding back tears. Tears of sadness and tears of joy, all at the same time. My boy is growing up.