There was a gusty wind today. The changes in the sky were fast and total, from blue to gray in a matter of seconds, then a sudden opening the clouds and sunshine spilled onto the landscape. No one complained about the weather but there was a gusty feeling around the house as well.
Bursts of wind inside the soul manifest themselves as moodiness (as far as I can tell) and it was as if everyone was a little blustery today.
The benefit of these kind of squalls that come and go so speedily is that they provide a myriad of chances to invent creative solutions for next time. And in more candid terms, moody kids give parents a chance to get really good at dealing with change– minute to minute.
The girls argued today over a Play Mobile Horse Barn that they got for Christmas. Not surprisingly, Big Sister actually wants to organize and properly play with the horses. Little Bean really just likes to take things apart. She takes all the birdies out of the trees, takes the tree apart and then takes the hair and hats off all the people–things like that. Time apart after one such argument, seemed to give Big Sister a chance to strategize. When they began play again, she had divided the horse barn in half. Doling out specific pieces to Little Bean, she secretly kept others for herself. Then she would offer two of the fore chosen items and let Little Bean choose the one she wanted. Little Bean got to feel like she was choosing but Big Sister had pretty much already chosen for her. Way to use a mom move, kid. I’m impressed.
Later while planting seeds in the garden together, it was my turn. Big Sister decided to try to jump over three rows of seeds we had just planted. This didn’t work out and she fell, crushing the new planted rows. I tried to control my tone but with irritation in my voice, while I helped her get up, I ended up saying something like, Ok, well I guess you learned something, now get out of the garden patch– that way, pointing her in the direction that would do the least damage to the rest of the rows. When she quickly made a b-line to a known hiding place and didn’t come out when I called, I suspected I had hurt her feelings.
There she was tucked into a little ball behind the rain-water barrel, crying. Go away, she said, when I came into view. I’m sorry sweetie, I said. It hit me that she’s just learning to garden, I don’t want to discourage her now at the very beginning. She can’t have any sense of how special it is for me that she likes to garden together. I don’t want to ruin that. And she certainly didn’t do it on purpose. She doesn’t really know how far she can jump.
I asked her if she wanted to tell me how I’d made her feel. Then I tried make her laugh. Stop talking Mommy, she said.
So I just sat there for a while. Eventually I asked her if she wanted to plant the last row of seeds together. We had been marveling at the way the flower seeds all look so different from one another, luckily we had one more pack to open. After a while she came over and sat on my lap and snuggled. Once we were back in the rows planting the last of the seeds she said, It just felt like you wanted me to go away.
And then I knew that it wasn’t the tone, it wasn’t even that I got frustrated with her, or that she made a mistake—it was when I said the words, Get out of the garden patch that way. My focus was on the seeds and the work we had done and not on her. Sadly she only heard, Get out of the garden patch. Ouch.
I would prefer that I always reacted perfectly, thereby avoiding the need to fix things at all with people, but if I’m going to have to go into the deep, humble place of hurt feelings and apologies, I’d prefer that it always be like it was today.
For dinner we ordered food from our local restaurant and picked it up after a little hike. During the hike the world almost came to an end when the two little ladies actually had to walk because no one would carry them on their shoulders. It’s called a hike for a reason, I wanted to say, because you’re supposed to walk. But I’ve been trying to avoid sarcasm…every since a few weeks ago when I said, Greeaat, and Big Sister observed that my voice didn’t really sound like I thought it was great. If something is great, she said, you should say, Great! and smile and look happy. Touché.
The gales of feelings lasted until dinner time. While eating, the wind seemed to die down. Although, when Little Bean had finished, she pushed her plate away and said proudly, I’m all done–only to immediately melt into tears when she saw Daddy finish the last of the potatoes. You said you were all done, I reminded her smiling. Oh yeah! She said happily, I’m done. I want to play. Just one last little gust of wind I guess.