Yesterday was a great day. We parked (twice). We napped. We Skyped. We set several small fires.
Jack is learning. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. One thing Allison and I have learned is that we need to stop being the keepers of the shortcuts he likes to take. He never would have learned how to take off his shoes if we kept doing it for him. This can lead to a bit of frustration on his part, some of which is completely acceptable. He gets a bit lazy and he knows if he fusses a bit that Dad will just take his shirt off for him. I can’t blame him. Hell, there are some days were I’d pay a guy 40 dollars a shoe to remove them for me.
God, he is SO my son.
These aren’t the only things he’s learning. His speech therapy has been ongoing for a while now and he’s doing amazing. As any concerns we had about his development are melting away, he is learning that his favorite word is “No.”
At the same time I get to see him effortlessly divide flash cards into 6 separate categories. Food. Clothes. Transportation. Toys. Animals. Bugs.
He’s doing a hell of a job and I get to be present and a part of all of it.
So, now for the part of the day that lead to me having to meditate in the car.
One of the parks we go to can take on an interesting dynamic. Every now and then a group of moms will form this inpenetrable shell around the sand box. They all know each other well. They all seem to have no issue dispensing advice OR simply pointing out all the things others may be doing wrong. At one point Jack walked over to a mother that was changing her newborn’s diaper. He was interested in what was going on and stared for a bit. I will write exactly what was said to avoid any confusion and limit bias.
ME: Hey, Jack, you wanna go swing?
THE MOTHER: It’s ok. He’s curious.
(She turns her head and looks at me)
He’s allowed to be curious.
Seems pretty benign, right? Not an ideal interaction, but nothing so devastating. I’ve become less convinced that other parents are taking note of the foibles of my fathering. I’ve learned not to let the sickness in others affect me. Yet, here I was, confronted with a person making a simple judgement and finding myself deeply wounded by it. I was jarred by being unable to imagine a scenario in which I would say such a thing to another parent. Words are powerful. So, clearly I’m off my game and I do what my default is. I don’t make the snidey comment anymore. I don’t denounce her in my mind as inconsiderate. I do something much worse for some one like myself:
I turn it inward.
In a matter of microseconds I am a terrible father and I can’t do this. Not because of the comment made, but because of the power I gave it. On a good day I can let the worst of insults roll across my armor, but I was off my game. I was disturbed and needed to get undisturbed. These days, I don’t do that alone. Whatever you want to call it (prayer, meditation, mindfulness) I have to get outside myself in those situations. My mother used to always tell me to “give it up to the universe”, and for a long time I was very vocal about how stupid I thought that sounded. Imagine my embarrassment when I find myself doing just that, giving it up to the universe, several times a day.
As always, I was helped along by my son. My son who, despite the static electric consequence, went down the tallest slide he ever has before. My son who takes his own shoes off, his own shirt and pants off, with no help. Later in the day after his speech we met friends at another park. And just as quickly as I’m resentful, I am made grateful again. Grateful for all I have today. Grateful to have had another great day and to hit my pillow looking forward to a new one.
Which brings us to today. But more on that later. I’ll try not to incur the wrath of any Pasadena Mom’s in my travels.
You all do the same. Be well.