I’ve mentioned before that we stay after school for a while to let the kids run off some steam before us moms have to drag away our children and be locked away, alone, with our kids. The other day one of the little girls ate an apple and set down the core next to her lunchbox because there are no garbage cans. It wasn’t long before Tornado A crawled off his blanket to investigate it. He rolled it, banged it, scratched it, and crawled away with it.
I assessed the danger. Gross, yes. But I highly doubt the child had some horrible disease that Tornado A would pick up. Besides he had his binky in his mouth.
After crawling around with the apple core, getting it covered in dirt and tiny leaves, Tornado A sat and investigated the core some more. Then he smelled it. He spat out the binky. He took a bite.
The mothers next to me shuddered.
I assessed the danger. A little dirt, a little plant particles, and a little random saliva. What’s the harm?
Yup, that’s how laid back I am. I let my baby boy eat someone else’s apple core that he’d been dragging around the dirt. And you know what. He survived.
I’ve learned to pick my battles and go with the flow. Sure, I can become a wall that the boys crash into when they go to far, but most times, I just let them be. Some times they make choices I never would. Like wearing a turtle neck, shorts, and cowboy boots in the pre-summer. Like deciding to poke a cactus with shorter and shorter sticks. Like drawing all over your own face with colored markers. But they are learning and being their own person.
When one of the mothers came to school late, with a thunder-cloud hanging over her, I asked her what happened after she delivered her daughter to class.
Mother: I just wanted to brush her hair. That’s all. And she throws a huge fit. I don’t know what I was thinking. She does it every time I do her hair. But she had a huge rat’s nest in it. I noticed it yesterday, and I thought I need to do her hair. And she fought and cried and yelled and wiggled. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Now we’re late. It’s just . . . .
Me: Hard. Parenting is hard. And you’re a good mom.
She took a deep breath.
Me: Maybe you let her go without her hair being brushed. Or you give her the choice to brush herself or let you. Or maybe you cut it so it doesn’t become a problem.
Mother: I know. It’s just . . . .
Me: Hard. Let it go, love. You’ll be happier. She’ll be happier.
So we talked for a while longer until I convinced her she needed to let it go and she was able to get out her frustrations. We parted ways. And you know what. She went back to the class and asked to see her daughter. She pulled her daughter outside and gave her a hug.
I can learn a lot from other moms.