We had a sitter last night.
It still is a fairly unusual occurrence, and I always feel the need to make the most of it. So, even though the birthday party we’d been invited to (a 40th, “no kids”, how revolutionary) didn’t start until 7, I asked the sitter to come at 6.
We left on bikes, the party only a few blocks away, my fiddle slung over my shoulders, the mandolin-just-in-case (reluctantly) over Josh’s. The party was in our neighborhood, and, conveniently, the brewpub was right across the street. Bikes locked, in we went, to have a beer and chat a bit, to kick off the date.
We of course talked about Alden.
Well, not right away. We did order a beer first. Then, over our first sips, Josh said, “Tell me a story. What’s new?”
And, then, I said, I been thinking about Alden.
We’ve been struggling a bit, since the start of school more so. Grumpy attitude, lots of yelling, some door slamming, frownyface as a seeming default. I do think Josh gets the worst of it, but Josh thinks I bend and coddle too much. (I think I pick my battles, don’t always sweat the small stuff, and know how to ask so I have the best chance of a win. But you know, potato, potahto.)
So, I said, I think, I have been thinking a lot about the grumps…and I think……. I need to be a better role model. I hate how quick he is to be impatient— But I get impatient and slammy myself. I get upset by his ignoring me– but I don’t always give him my ears right away, either.
And I think I need to be careful about what I DO give my attention for. I think I might be giving him my most concerted attention when he’s whiny, upset, and crabby. I need to turn that on its head and be present with him when he’s happy and content. Not pushy, but present. Interested in his interests.
Oh, (sip, sip) and that’s another thing. When a child’s behavior is frustrating, it can become all you notice about that child, really quickly. So all of a sudden, instead of this charming person you used to know there’s just this being who either is, or isn’t, a giant pain in the neck. “How was it” replaces “tell me about it”. “How’d it go” replaces “What’d you do.”
So, I thought and said, Part of this whole Grumpy Cycle is, I need to spend more time really seeing him. Appreciating all the things that make him such a great guy.
So, tonight, I tried, really tried. I left for work at 7:15 in the morning and arrived home at 5:45, to find Alden listening to a book on tape and Josh resting after a brutal remodeling day. As I washed the day’s dishes, made and washed up dinner, got Alden to help tidy up, take a tub, and hit the sack by 8, I tried at every turn to remember what had felt so clear, the night before, in the calm space of just me and Josh, taking a breath and stepping back.
Amazingly, or maybe not even so much, it was the giggliest, friendliest evening Alden and I had had in a while. Even when I was insisting upon something (time to wash hair) somehow there was a joke in it (Hey! that water pouring kinda sounds like pee!) and it all just flowed (as it were.)