Yesterday was a public holiday, and it started off great. The night before, we ate butternut soup (your second best meal after sushi), we played UNO, laughed a lot, drew pictures and played new apps. The next morning, I was woken by a French poodle on one side, and a boy wanting to get the day started on another.
I had promised I’d take you tenpin bowling, and you were so excited. We went, we played, I lost, and we had a ball (oh yes!). We rode on spinning dodgem-type cars, and we laughed and had fun. I high-fived you, and in my head I high-fived the day, and what a great time we were having, and how I’m relishing this phase when you’re gaining maturity, but you’re still not old enough to stop needing me, and expressing how much you love your mom.
And then you wanted to go to the toyshop, promising me that you would only be looking. And this is where our fun day deviated into the gutter, much like most of my balls at tenpin bowling. I trusted that we would be okay in the toyshop just “looking” as you’re generally okay just doing some sightseeing, something that wasn’t possible when you were two, three and four.
Also, less than two weeks ago, your dad and I bought you a helicopter Meccano set that cost several digits, that came with the understanding of “No LEGO or anything this month (aside from the basics like food, entertainment, education, iTunes vouchers etc).
And it was going okay in Liliputs, until this happened: a shiny new set that you’ve only ever seen online.
There were no tantrums… fortunately those were left behind in the toy aisles when you were two and three. This was even worse despite being less head-turning: you were quiet. And sad. And I so badly wanted to buy you the LEGO, not necessarily to avoid the ensuing drama, but to make you happier.
But I didn’t. Firstly, our agreement was no more LEGO this month. Secondly, there’s a lesson in not getting what you want, and when you want it, and thirdly, there’s that thing called gratitude, and learning to appreciate what you have (PS: I don’t think you’re ungrateful and unappreciative at all, but it’s an ongoing lesson generally in life).
And after explaining the whole LEGO/Meccano thing, and the “some kids don’t even have a piece of LEGO” story, the tears started sweeping down your face. You got exactly what I was saying, but that didn’t change the fact that you were just sad that you couldn’t get what you wanted. And I get that. I sometimes want the pink Nikes/Hello Kitty headphones/Apple Watch NOW, and it frustrates the crap out of me when my want is greater than my patience, or understanding that I can’t always get what I want.
I can’t tell you what to feel and for how long, so I let you cry, go quiet, and be sad. That sadness might have been disproportionate to what i thought it could/should be, but again, who am I to tell you when your feelings need a time out?
And like everything, your mood eventually passed. After we came home, after a frosty rest of time in Rosebank and in the car, you went into your bedroom for a few minutes, and then came out. After a while, you apologised for crying earlier, to which I replied that you never have to apologise for crying or feeling.
And then we were playing UNO, and looking excitedly online for new-in-South-Africa LEGO sets.
I know that moments like these won’t be the toughest part of parenting, nor have they been among my biggest challenges, but it’s hard to be a “perpetrator” of the sadness, even though I’ve done nothing wrong, and just trying to raise a great son (which you are, of course).
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