“It’s OK mom, you’re doing great… you’re doing a really good job at staying calm.. I think if he was crying at me all of the time I’d get super frustrated too… oh, and I think you look really beautiful.”
All of these words came spilling out of his sweet little 8 year old mouth as we pushed the stroller along the back alley to the playground.
We paused quickly to examine the tattered remains of an old very dead pigeon stuck to the asphalt.
Where did he get those words from? Nobody ever sat him down and told him, “Please take notes on the following information: When your mom is upset because of operation toddler takeover, you should say the following phrases to her to help her from losing her mind.”
That would have been awesome. But in reality, he’s probably absorbed words from his father, words from me, and words that we’ve said to him over and over again that we actually wondered if he was hearing at all.
Turns out, he heard it and he saved it up for a moment when I needed to hear him say it back to me.
Sometimes the crying toddler days are just inevitable. Sometimes they go to bed too late and you simply pay for it the next morning – ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY. Even if you take them to the playground.
Sometimes (and I mean all of the time) the only thing that can solve the old situation is time, some dark chocolate, a whole lot of Jesus, and an early bedtime.
Sometimes toddlers are just grumpy, just like sometimes anybody can be just a little bit grumpy.
And sometimes, it takes the wisdom and foresight of an 8 year old to hold the rocking ship on the ol’ stormy seas together.
“OK, be free, nobody’s even here and the sun is shining, conditions are perfect.” We had reached the playground.
Five minutes in, all 4 of them them were fighting over the two swings.
Ten minutes in, some elaborate but sensible playground rules came into effect.
Playground rule #1: If you chase after your brother and whack him on the head full force with your Nerf gun, you no longer get to use it.
Playground rule #2: No. You are not allowed to eat the snacks of the random kid 10 feet away from you.
Playground rule #3: Don’t look at the kid you don’t know and yell phrases like, “What is that kid doing, why is he looking at me, and why is he using my slide, get him away!!!”
“You’re leaving already?” said the sweet mom we walked past as her daughter peacefully biked beside her.
“Yeah…” I looked down at the wailing toddler inside my stroller… and his nose contents that were running straight into his mouth because, this just in, – crying makes your nose run.
We made our way home, stopping to take one last look at the poor pigeon and to have a very brief discussion on how ‘said pigeon’ had reached his tragic demise.
Things felt like they were looking up, maybe our rocky day had reached its peak.
Or, maybe not.
Inside the elevator, “He bit my hair!” was followed up by, “He spit on me.”
“Mom, you go inside your room and close the door a lot after big crazy toddler explosions… and then when you come out again you’re all like, ‘OK guys, let’s do this now…’ and then you’re kind of happier.”
“Ever wondered what I’m doing in there?” I asked my 8 year old.
“Basically pouring my heart out before God and asking him to help me to be patient and kind because I just don’t want to be anymore AT ALL.”
“Huh. I think it’s working, and you seem to not be going into your room as often anymore.”
“You really think so? That’s good. That means I’m growing.. I’m becoming a better person in this old character refinement fast track called parenting. Don’t give up hope on your little brothers either OK? They’re growing too, and each day they’ll keep getting better at all of this stuff.”
“OK sure Mom.” He nodded and snuggled up tight onto his Dad’s pillow beside me.
“Now that I’ve talked to you a whole lot about your feelings and stuff, and said a bunch of nice things to you… do you think we could look up those Nerf guns on Amazon I was wanting to look at?”
8 year old wisdom laced with ulterior motives…
But nevertheless, today he was the calmer of the stormy seas.
We might as well hand him an eye-patch, call him “Captain,” and load up the old web browser in the process.
One hour later a text came in from my husband, the keeper of the amazon account… you know, the one who gets the notification e-mails about recent orders.