It’s hard to think back, once you are a parent, to the days prior to, and trying to remember what you thought it would be like. I never imagined I would learn so much about trucks and construction equipment or even guess that my husband would start collecting machines just like our son. I never imagined conversations about death and love and cats and all manner of things that you have with a 4 year old. I didn’t know how close to the edge certain theme music could make you go (Bob the Builder……can we build it!). Or how much I would resort to bribery. Although I call it motivation and behaviour reinforcement rather than bribery. I didn’t know how important friends are in the world of a 4 year old.
Parenting is just what you do most days. You try and do a good job. If you are impatient or mean or inconsistent one day, you try and do better the next day. It’s a journey with no destination. You do the best you can. Because in the end that is all you can do. There is no pass/fail exam at the end. If one day you look and your kids are relatively social, smart, funny adults I think you might think you did a good job. It’s probably one of those situations where other people can see more easily that you can. I think my nephews are great kids and my brother and his wife are awesome parents. They probably only see what they think they aren’t doing right.
With my own boy, I think any faults he has are entirely my doing. I’m not training him well. A bit like what I once said about one of my employees – any deficits in his work are manager related (me not providing support/training/ clear expectations, etc). I see a lot of correlations between being a manager and being a parent. Unfortunately I can’t put co-workers in a time-out or take away their toys if they are not being a team player or sharing…
D and I laugh sometimes about the way we talk about our boy. Sometimes it must sound like we have a large dog that needs lots of fresh air and exercise. Because an active 4 year old does need lots of fresh air and exercise. And healthy food. And lots of sleep. And lots of love. I think I’m doing ok on the fresh air and exercise, definitely ok on the lots of love, doing better on the lots of sleep, it is the food that is the challenge in our house. People are often amazed by the fact that our boy doesn’t like chicken or pasta (what – no chicken nuggets or mac & cheese?). He’s not a meat eater, no potatoes, rice or pasta. His favorite foods are chocolate and French fries. (So now I have to take back all the nasty thoughts I ever had pre-kid about “my child would never eat…..”). He eats peanut butter sandwiches (and no other kind), cheese and crackers (according to the dentist cheese is great, crackers are bad, for teeth), oatmeal bars, bran muffins, all kinds of fruit, some vegetables (cucumber, carrots, peas, beans), yogurt….but I keep telling myself – if this is my biggest challenge I am so very blessed. I am.
But I’m getting tired of repeating myself. No, my child does not eat chicken or pasta or pizza. We went over to a friends for dinner last night and the other kids had bisgetti. Our boy won’t touch bisgetti so he had some sliced cucumber and crackers. Because the other thing is that if he doesn’t eat what’s for dinner, he doesn’t get a whole other cooked dinner. Partly because he wouldn’t eat the alternative anyway and partly because we are not short order cooks. If you are hungry you eat what is in front of you. If you don’t like it or don’t want it then you can have cheese and crackers and yogurt and fruit or you can go hungry. Your choice. But it’s hard to think that my child is hungry. Or now to face the comments about how thin he is. Because he takes after my husband, he is tall and thin, with skinny long legs. But he’s a stubborn boy. And he won’t eat what he doesn’t like. That is fine. But he also won’t eat anything he doesn’t think he’ll like. My biggest frustration is that he won’t even try things. Not even one little taste. On the rare occasion he will and discovers that he likes other things. Like radishes. We grew radishes in his garden this year so he tried one and liked it – not as much as cucumbers and carrots but still, a new vegetable for his plate. Yay!