This picture was taken by our daughter, Meredith, when she was age five last spring. We were shopping for some groceries. I try to be a good role model of patience when I can. But today, I had a funny moment of truth.
We were playing Pick Up Sticks. By the way, Meredith is quite good at this game. We think she could have a future as a surgeon some day. After several tries, I could not get a single stick when out of the blue, in front of my now six-year-old, I had a mini-temper tantrum. No, I didn't yell or scream or flail my arms. I just rather subtly, but not subtly enough, used my tool stick to stir up the sticks that lay precariously so that at my next turn, I'd have some kind of chance to pick up a damned stick.
Yes, Meredith's mouth dropped, she smiled, laughed and said to me, "I've never seen you do that before."
"Mommy had a little temper tantrum. I'm sorry." I said then laughed because, it all happened so fast and I didn't even realize that my competitive streak was so close to the surface. I mean really, did I have to beat my six-year-old at this game? Had I forgotten the importance of building up her self-esteem and praising her steady hands, a skill I think can serve her future? Am I trying to be the grand master at Pick Up Sticks? To my credit, we've played this game before many times and Meredith usually wins, and I happily give her a high five and congratulate her with words of praise and smiles, but for some reason today, I couldn't hack it.
My competitive streak showed, BIG TIME, to my daughter.
I hope she learned that everyone can lose it, even mommies who are supposed to lead by example. Meredith has certainly had her share of temper tantrums. And I've certainly had my share of lectures on advising how to calm down. But obviously I showed her that I agreed that losing is not fun.
At least laughing at myself is more important than always being perfect with my daughter. Maybe I showed her how to forgive herself when she makes mistakes. We all make mistakes. Let's hope that's part of her take away.
School for my Kindergartener is winding down, only five more weeks. Panic is about to set in as I wonder how I will find time to write. But I cherish watching our daughter grow and learn. Most of the time.
One thing I did not expect in parenting is the irrationality. Crying jags that come out of seemingly nowhere just floor me. I'm learning to not try to fix it right away, but to wait for her to calm down before I try an intervention of any kind. It's getting better, dare I say.
She's such an amazing, smart, funny girl. She really has a great sense of humor. I feel so blessed that I have the privilege to parent another human being. I try not to think too much about the importance of this job.
I like to remember the saying, I'm not sure who said it, "Life is too important to take seriously." I didn't get it at first. I mean this life stuff IS serious especially the whole parenting thing.
But as I approach the midway point in life, yes I do expect to live to be 100 so I can consider myself to be middle aged, the more I realize the importance of enjoying the present moment.
I've spent enough years worrying for this lifetime and the next. So I'm trying not to teach my daughter to worry while still teaching her the importance of planning ahead and being responsible.
Summer will be here soon and there are several things I'd like to do. But I also want to just enjoy the moment with her and make some happy memories while teaching her the importance of responsibility, being a good friend, a caring citizen, gaining math skills so she's prepared for a career that can support her so she doesn't have to live with us at the nursing home, learning to sew, cook, swim, ride a bicycle, deal with bullies, learn self-defense, encourage her artistic abilities, and continue in group sports to learn good sportsmanship and to build athletic skills....
Most importantly I want her to learn to stop and enjoy the moment and laugh at herself when she gets too serious. Fortunately, she has a funny daddy who helps us both laugh. Thanks John.