We’ve begun the slow work of helping Brooks sign his name on 25 valentines for his classmates and teachers. For our little guy, each letter is a process – and he has 6 to write – B-R-O-O-K-S. Multiply that by 25 and sometimes my patience leaves me.
He talks it out as he writes, “B (which for him looks like an 8 with a line down the middle), R, O… um, flower. Mom, I’m drawing a flower.”
“Baby, please just finish your name. O-K-S. Come on, next one.”
For someone like me who can get impatient and annoyed when simple tasks (for me) don’t get accomplished on my timeline, I get frustrated. I’ve mentally allocated 5-6 valentines per night over 5 nights and when it takes 10 minutes to get through one of them, I get a little crazy. Then I start nagging.
“Brooks, hurry and finish these.”
“Stop licking the valentines, these are for your friends, they don’t want spit all over them.”
“Please pay attention and stop writing on your hand.”
“Yes, that one does say Emma, you’re right. Ok, let’s keep going.”
My frustration mounting as he worked along. Somewhat worked. Somewhat goofed off.
“Brooks, write an S,” I said, exasperated that we still had shower and bedtime routine ahead of us and it was getting late. “Brooks, that doesn’t look like an S – that’s a very long M. I need you to focus and do this, you’re not doing a good job on this.”
To which he replied, “I’m ignoring you right now mom.” Not a yell. He didn’t even look up. Just a matter-of-fact statement from my 4-year old as he continued to autograph his love notes.
And in that moment, I had a brief revelation. I’m glad he’s ignoring me. I’m glad he’s choosing not to hear his crazy mother tell him he’s not doing a good job on his preschool valentines. Because, really – who cares?!
Who cares if his valentines just say “Br” with flowers or if they have nothing or scribbles. We’ll throw out the ones he receives within hours, so why does it matter so much to me that he tries hard on this? Why do I always feel like I need to control every aspect of my life and the lives of my favorite people?
I’m proud of my boy. For choosing what goes into his head. For sticking up for himself in such a kind way and letting me know that he’s done hearing my criticism. And that he doesn’t care about the “normal” way.
What a great reminder that sometimes we need to have selective hearing and the confidence to stand our ground when it comes to the critics. I’m going to work on my own selective hearing. And also try to be more selective in my parenting – while giving some room to let them be who they are, and not who I always expect them to be.