Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 171: It's Just...

As pretty much everything else has been this summer, our playgroup was rained out this week. But one brave soul volunteered to host, so we all took advantage of the opportunity to get our own kids out of the houses they've been strangely cooped up in for most of the month of June...and May...and, well it hasn't been a very park-friendly season so far.

We walked in to find a beautifully arranged table of art supplies, and before long we were all watching paintbrush double dipping and playdough colors being smashed together into one big marbled mass. I think a few of us started to hyperventilate. Then we launched into our own stories of OCD meets child rearing.

And the common thread in those stories was It's just... I wish I didn't need the reminders so often, but I'm certainly glad they keep coming. This one was one of my favorites.

It's just flour

So often the behaviors I try foolishly to change in Jackson are just the product of a two-year-old being two - curious, creative, and rambunctious. And always - always - the thing I'm upset about is just not as important as nurturing him and our relationship.

The mess he drags all over the house - up, down, left, right, this corner, that nook, anywhere you can imagine and then ten more places you can't - is more likely a great opportunity for me to learn to let go and focus on more important things than it is an opportunity to teach him responsibility.

Do the upstairs toys really need to stay upstairs and downstairs toys downstairs? Do they really need to be sorted? Aren't they his things and shouldn't he be able to play with them and put them away how he likes?

Maybe putting the singing hamster and the pretend razor in the same bin makes sense to him because the guy might need a shave in the middle of the night. And maybe overturning the ball pit to make a cozy place to lay with his animals isn't as much messy as it is creative.

Of course it's not that order and responsibility shouldn't be learned. But ranting like a crazy person about the mess while demanding that he pick it up and put it away my way might not be the most effective way to teach those things, certainly not to inspire them. I wonder how I would feel if he went off about the horrific stack of crap perpetually on my "desk" (aka the dining room table) and ordered me to rearrange everything, or worse yet, clean it up so there was no stack of crap.
It's just dirt

When it comes down to it, no matter what the situation is and no matter how huge it feels at the time, I can always say It's just...

It's just a shirt (which we probably paid a quarter for at a garage sale). It's just a camera (maybe using a disposable camera would be nostalgic, remember waiting to get them developed?). It's just an appointment (that I probably would've found a way to be late to if he hadn't). It's just a nap (which he will not die without, nor will his brother).

But I'll never find myself thinking, it's just our's just his's just his's just his confidence. No, those things have to be more important. And if I'm focused on his behavior, I'm showing him they're not.

I have to change my frame of mind. I shouldn't be asking myself how I'm going to motivate him to do what I want or worse, make him do what I want. In every situation I should only ask: How can I love him in this moment? Because balls neatly inside the ball pit or strewn all over the room, what matters is that he feels loved and cherished. It's just that simple. 


  1. I used to be that HUGE freak that would seriously want to color the picture for the child... Just so they would stay in the lines. But then, luckily, I had the boys... They have taught me to let go of a lot of things and I am SO grateful that I learned that 'It's just' a long time ago. I recently had a playdate where the kids finger painted a picture for Father's Day and one of the mom's asked if I was crazy. It dawned on me, then, that I had completely given up 'some' of my OCD ways and found a lot more peace in watching Parker create his own little masterpieces. It is so much fun to watch him grow, learn and create they want 'he' wants to... Not always the way 'I' want him to (quiet, clean and quickly)... Thanks for this post Meredith... I needed a 'Feel Proud of Yourself' moment/reminder recently!

  2. Good for you, Betsy! Next time Jack wants to finger paint I'll send him your way ;) lol