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My little runaway…run, run, run, run, runaway

June 14, 2011

I think every parent at times asks the question, “Am I a good parent?” Some days when I feel myself about to go into a core reactor meltdown I have to repeat my favorite mantras…

“He’s only two.”

“It is easier to raise a healthy child than fix a broken adult.”

We have been working A LOT with empathy in our house. This means that when I get smacked in the leg or spat at (oh no he didn’t. oh yes he did) I try to get down to the little guy’s level and give him some firm compassion. “You are so mad. You really want  to (insert: watch 342 hours of videos, eat ice cream in bed, bang wooden hammer on sister’s head, throw rocks at the car, rip out newly planted flowers) don’t you. You are so mad that you are trying to hurt Mommy. I don’t like to get hurt. Ouch. Let me give you a hug instead.” 7 times out of 10 this actually diffuses the situation and my little guy crumples like a kleenex into my lap overcome by his emotion. He’s 2. I mean it’s like living with PMS 24/7 apparently. When I am actually successfully in an empathetic state I really do get it. Being a small guy in an adult world is hard. I can remember snatches of his frustration. The drudge of the afternoon nap (I can still even remember the floral patterns on the sheets of my bed). The distaste of having my applesauce spread into my peas. The boring journeys to the plant nursery or grocery store.

Empathy is also way better than my alternate approach which is “DON’T SPIT. GO IN YOUR ROOM UNTIL YOU CAN ACT NICELY.” “NONONONO.” “YESYESYESYEYES.” “NONONONONONO.” “YESYESYESYESYES.” Drags little guy into room. Those No’s and Yes’s can go back and forth for upwards of a half an hour.

So…empathy generally seems to be working on a big picture level. But let me just say this is not without a hiccup or two.

Take yesterday . My overtired guy decided to boycott naps altogether and stage a protest that would be the envy of unions and pro-democracy activists everywhere. Fine, I decided after 2 hours of futile gentle encouragement. Fine, no nap. That was promptly followed by a poo in the closet. “Wow, you are really angry to go poop in your diaper in the closet. You are so angry that you didn’t want the toilet.” Fine, change diaper. This is where the gauntlet is throw…in process of cleaning away said diaper I hear front door slam.

Are you kidding me?

WTF? I run out to backyard to check out sandbox, toybox, garden. Nope.

WTF? I head to front yard to check out car, etc. Nope.

Seriously…WTF? I hustle down to end of driveway and look left, than right. Bingo. My two year old son is running (naked as a little jaybird) up the sidewalk towards the rather busy road a block away. I start to chase him. He cackles and diverts into our street. I catch him right in front of a house with a bunch of hippy UCSC students moving out. Dude, was I about to harsh their mellow.

In my pajamas I grab my little nudie rudie quite roughly with empathy out the window. Much cathartic yelling ensued on my part, I’m sure the other neighbors were peering out their blinds thinking what is that crack mom up to now? The hippie gaped.  My son issued some nervous laughter that sent me from angry to freaking full on Fukushima meltdown fury. Then that little mantra sprouted up like a tiny hopeful flower inside my toxic sludge, “He is two.”

Cue the deep breath. Exhale. Repeat.

“I was so scared.” I said making a scared face.

“Yeah.” My guy responded, laughter ceasing.

“I was so scared because you ran out of the house and I didn’t know where you were.”

“Yeah. I ran away.”

“I was so frightened that you would get hurt by a big car.”

“I so sorry Mama.”

Cue loads of tears from little guy and then in turn his mama.

Since this traumatic event he’ll walk up  at random moments and say, “Run away Mama? No way!”

Hopefully he’ll remember that when he turns 16 or so and we are embroiled in some teenage quagmire. Hopefully I remember to keep having those gleanings of empathy at the right moment (or a few minutes later, better late than never). A nightly glass of red doesn’t hurt either. I’m working my way down the Central Coast wineries. And on those mantras.

my own personal zen master


3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2011 8:43 am

    I love your blog, Lea. I can so relate to your posts. My personal mantra is, “He’s only five”. It’s so hard to keep your cool sometimes, but it sounds like you’re doing pretty well. And, man- that kid is cute!

  2. Jenny D permalink
    June 15, 2011 12:50 pm

    You’re an awesome momma Lea 🙂 I have a stupid mantra that helps me sleep: mentally chanting “peanut-butter muffins” somehow does the trick. <3!

  3. June 21, 2011 3:19 pm

    courtney…thanks on all accounts. looking forward to “he’s only 57!” jenny d, “that would keep me up and hungry i suspect.”

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