Not to get all sappy, but today has been a truly joyous day with my son. No one was over-tired, no one had impulsively cut holes in their socks with their new red scissors, no one had been bullied at school, no one was asking impossible questions.
It all began with rain, rain which disallowed the status quo, the status quo which was to play on the playground after school. Now, considering my son is the third youngest of 22 kids in his class, and he’s only one of 4 veterans that were previously indoctrinated into Montessori civility, playground time hasn’t always gone smoothly this year.
It began with rain. We rushed to the car, and being a Friday we had the blue folder of his work for the week. Every Friday, parents are to empty the work from the week and then return the folder on Monday. He sat in his carseat. I climbed in the back seat with him and shut the door against the rain, and he began pulling out his work, telling me in detail what every single page was all about. Some pages were alphabet connect the dots; on one he noticed he’d skipped “I” and we had to talk about how that was really OK. Some pages were coloring pages and he told me about the colors he chose, always some colors he chose for Daddy and some for Mommy. He showed me the stencil inset designs he had made, which I know he is incredibly proud of because he’d been watching the older kids do stencil insets last year.
Then, he showed me a couple of frail pages of tracing paper with the cursive (!) alphabet written on them in a shaky hand. (He’s three!) I knew he had traced the letters since it was the first cursive I’d seen from him, and the lines were really straight, and it was tracing paper. So I said, “Oh, you traced letters in cursive. I’m so proud of you! That’s new work, right?” (So far, all of his handwriting work had not been cursive.) He looked at me and said “I didn’t trace them. I wrote them all myself from my head.” Well, we know this wasn’t exactly true. I told him “I am so proud of you. This is such wonderful work.” He grinned so hugely it made me melt. I had to give him tons of kisses.
Yes, take pride in your work. The best feeling is seeing your child have pride in his own accomplishments. I want to encourage him to be prideful, because I want to encourage him to have self worth, to value his pursuits in all aspects of his life. Sure, pride on some level is supposedly to be a sin, but if cultivated in the right way, in the right aspect of the self, it is a life force. Live for what you know is true and good and right and have pride in yourself for doing so. So many of us, especially women, let things happen in the world that we know are wrong because we don’t take pride in our own morals and beliefs. I do not want to raise my son to just let things happen, whether they are to himself or other people. I want to raise him to be a brave and loyal man who will stand up for what is right when he sees a wrong being committed, who will follow what is right when the wrong is tempting, who will be able to trust his immediate assessment of the difference between the two in any given situation, wholly. This all begins with having pride in ones self.
In his one bout of moodiness, he did request that I “please turn off the news so he could have some quiet” on the ride home. He asked in such a reasonable way that I did turn off the NPR. But, after a few seconds of quiet he put a hat on of his that was randomly in the backseat; it was blue, black and gray. “Guess what I am?” He asked. My guesses were wrong. “I’m a policeman,” he said, “An adult policeman!” Well, he did have on all dark blue: his uniform pants, and that hat.
Once we got home we played a lengthy pretend-game dictated by him, which had something to do with “checking our website” to “see what we earned.” Now, I know he doesn’t understand the intricacies of affiliate marketing. Checking the website had to do with peering at a piece of paper on which he had sketched a geometric design, then making checks on it with a marker. This was “seeing what we earned,” but then he turned and asked me “Mommy, what does earned mean?” So I tried to explain earning gold stars at school and earning money at work.
Then, knowing we had a birthday party to go to the next day, I pulled out the brown paper bag he needed to decorate for the party gift. I was floored by his consideration for the girl the gift was for: “Do you think she’d like Pooh stickers, or ladybugs, or honeypot, or, What do you think she would like BEST?” I told him he could put as many stickers on the bag as he wanted. He also drew, cut out, and pasted a few shapes. My error was trying to write Happy Birthday on the bag. Keegan screamed “NO! I want to do it.” He went and got me a fine black pen and asked me to write Happy Birthday lightly. Then, he traced each letter, painstakingly, with a purple marker. He was almost finished when he said, “I am so tired of this, can you finish it?” I said, “Honey, it is only four more letters. You can do it, and it will be all done by you.” He finished the tracing and we sealed up the bag.
We made dinner together, he sitting on the kitchen counter. We sauteed mushrooms and made organic mushroom mac ‘n cheese. He cut the cheese pack open and poured it in. He picked out his own dip for his carrots. Out of the ten choices we had he chose ketchup. He had peaches too, asking why don’t they please sell peach juice in big jars just like orange juice. Sorry, kiddo.
After dinner was bath time, which he always likes. He even washes his hair by himself now. It’s amazing how they grow in leaps and bounds; it feels like just yesterday I was trying to convince him to use the potty. After his bathtime he always likes to play the exact same game that goes along with getting dried and dressed. It’s a no-fail thing; ALWAYS this is the routine. I bundle him up in his oversized towel and he requests I put him on his bed and make sure all his parts are covered so he is bundled up like and egg. Then he requests (while hiding under his towel) that I make driving noises and go to the doctor to have the doctor hatch my baby. So, I make the driving noises, I arrive at the doctor, and then Keegan dramatically hatches out of his egg and clings to me talking in baby talk. Luckily, I have convinced him that newly born babies need to get dressed right away in awesome undies and jammies. Then he picks out four books, but keeping with his ‘baby’ role, he will only sound out a couple of the syllables of the titles phonetically, then look at me at little mischieviously to see if I’ll get what he’s talking about. Yes, I know you mean Harlold!
Once we cozy up for books the baby-act is all gone and it is now all interest in the books. About Harold and the Purple Crayon he at first said, “I am so scared he’s going to get in trouble for writing on the wall!” We’ve been working on explaining pretend premises and artist’s renditions…we’ll see. Then we read The Giving Tree, which is always a little bit sad. Today: “Why is that boy leaving his apple cores on the ground? That’s littering.” These two were followed by Do Unto Otters and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
After teeth brushing, sips of water, potty, and tucking in again, I tried to sing him the only song I ever really sing him, the one that begins with “Hush little baby,” but he requested the “ABCs.” Now, I’m no singer in the first place, so the ABCs over and over and over is not great. But he likes it. After he had his song, we made sure he had his elephant, his lion, and his funny-shaped red stuffed friend. And then we said goodnight and gave each other kisses.