To understand this story, you have to know that we get mice.
I know, some of you are probably recoiling in disgust, making the “ick” face and preparing a list of Ways the Montana Deckers Can Get Rid of the Mice Once and For All.
Awesome, send me your lists; I am so, always, continually open to suggestions.
But I am also really, really over beating myself up over being a horrible housekeeper or a neglectful homeowner or a bad mom because each fall and spring these little $&#%ers try to move in. Heck, doesn’t that mean it seems cozy in here? A good thing?
Anyway, Mouse Season arrives, right on schedule, and I’ve taken out 3 or 4 so far. I would remember better but I have even come so far as to re-use traps as many times as I can. The ones with the plastic “cheese plates” are useless for a second round, but the old-fashioned metal ones seem to be harder to find.
Anyway. It’s early, today, this morning. Alden had crept into our bed for a few precious snuggle moments before we all get up and get moving, but now we’re up and on the move. I’m in the bathroom, doing contacts, and I hear Josh shout– LOUD– “WHAT is THAT doing in here????”
I peeked out, one-eyed, and saw that Josh was referring to a wooden bowl of Cheerios on the dresser in Alden’s room. Alden was already crumpling in tears as Josh continued, “Have we TALKED about this? Food does NOT come into your room! We have TALKED and talked and TALKed about this…”
Alden is sobbing, now, and Josh says, “You’re upset because you got BUSTED.”
Second contact is in, and I’m trying to decide what to do.
Out of the bathroom into Alden’s room, and I see he’s not in a talking kind of space, at all, so I suggest, You’re upset– Daddy and I will see you in a bit when you calm down…
(And I’m torn, cuz, when I’m upset, people don’t usually offer to “leave me alone til I’ve calmed down”…I would find that patronizing and demeaning. Like, I’m only “OK” to be with you when my emotions are within your range of “acceptable.”
When I am upset, I DON’T always know how to talk about it. I usually want a oving empathetic friend who doesn’t need me to be bigger than my mess when I’m in the middle of it.
I SOMETIMES want to be alone– but that is, in fact, the EASIEST thing to ask for.)
So–leaving Alden to “get it together”– not my best move.
In reality what Alden needed was this:
To sprawl across his daddy’s wide, strong chest, frog-legged, while his daddy (not me) told him he was so glad they were going to be better partners together, that he thought Alden was the bestest dude he knew, that he loved him more than he could say. And Alden said, straight up, that he gets it.
At no time was it “OK” that Alden had sneaked Cheerios into his room when we are on “Gah! Mouse Lockdown!”
But at no time did obedience trump relationship.
Will Alden forget or blow it again?
Well, yeah, probably!!!
In what other relationship do people demand immediate, unquestioning, unerring obedience like that from our children? Few I can think of— few I want to emulate as a parent.
In my worldview, obedience is NOT (almost ever) an end in and of itself.
I feel like Alden and I are on the same team; Alden’s just the rookie who doesn’t yet understand the rules or have the skills.
Granted, there will come a time when this view of Alden will be less accurate. But right now, he’s FOUR.
I left the house this morning for a walk with a friend before work, just as Alden and Josh were frog-leg cozy on the couch, discussing breakfast options.
This stuff matters.
These small (hugeatthemoment) forgettable interactions…
They matter more than anyone can measure.
What builds a person? Every interaction is like a single brick in a skyscraper. EVERY. INTERACTION.
That is as terrifying or as validating as you need that statement to be.
The traps are set for tonight.