Monday, February 8, 2010

The Checkout Line: Bread, Milk, Cheese, Self Worth

I don't know if this is your experience, but I tend to reach for my writing pen, virtual or otherwise, most often when I'm not in a good place. I think overall it's to find a place to vent it, to look at it a little closer (read: over analyze it with a view towards blowing it into an international incident), or just to hear myself yell. It doesn't take a psychoanalyst to puzzle out why I use this device--as a kid if I uttered what I was really thinking and feeling I was liable to get smacked. Hence, railing somewhat uselessly at the blank page commenced early on. Nevertheless, the fact that I feel like I'm bitching so much really rankles me. Yes, I'm bitching, about bitching.

For many years now I've had an etched plaque with a saying that has sustained me through many a rough patch. In fact, when my husband and I were in our early relationship, going through some pretty world rocking stuff, I fairly drove him nuts with each and every utterance of this sage advice: "Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking." I'm sure he appreciated hearing it repeatedly very much, but we survived it, so, annoying--yes, but also useful. What you choose to give your attention to does often determine the direction of your life.

So today I want to bitch and moan about some pretty trivial, but nevertheless making me angst ridden stuff, but I choose to write about something else.

Today, I took Big Kidlet on a walk and I needed to go to the grocery store afterwards. He's not a nightmare in a grocery store, but it's pretty much like wheeling around a wild motormouth octopus some days. I've resolved to let up the reins a bit now that he's approaching three and is exhibiting some better listening skills, and a modicum of impulse control. In other words there is a slight stutter step while he thinks about it before he runs into traffic; a glimmer of a reasonable being is emerging. It's not easy for me. Did I mention that my mother thinks that really there was no problem using a dog run as a playpen when I was a kid? Yes, my example has been a clear owner/owned kind of paradigm, so although I resist it, I have to school the instincts every living day as I make my way through early parenthood.

Anyway, so back to the grocery store. As we approach the store he asks/tells me that he wants to "walk himself" today inside the grocery store. Previously my response pretty much can be summed up as an automatic with alacrity, brooking no argument whatsoever, "no way, no how, not gonna happen." But, these days I'm being a lot more aware of when I decide not to let him try simply because it might be a huge hassle for me. I'm looking long term these days. So I said, "sure, with a few ground rules," which we took a moment to review before we entered. To mark the occasion, I led him over to the "customer-in-training" mini shopping carts, which I previously had jealously eyed when other cute little children sedately (to my eyes) wielded them through the aisles after their (to my eyes) relaxed parents, and regarded as absolutely unrealistic in my lifetime for my spirited little boy. I can't describe the look on his face. I wish I could have a snapshot of it to remind myself each time I decide that he can't do something.

Aside from having a minor coronary every time he came in range of a wine bottle display (seriously this place seemed like it was wall-to-wall wine bottles!), he more or less walked behind me, full of pride, as I placed our groceries in his basket. It was a thing of beauty. He proudly stood in line , handed the groceries to the checker, and generally looked to stand about a foot taller.

It was a good lesson. For today that plaque in my mind says: "Very little is needed to make a happy kid, it's all within themselves, when they are allowed to try, and know they can."

Funny, all those little bitchy things I wanted to write down are like vivid dreams that become hazier and a vague echo upon waking and getting on with it. And my day with my kids has been a lot easier.

  • Macro Goal: Be present for my kids, and do some personal remodeling.
  • Micro Goal: Be aware that I and my kids are what I choose to focus on. Try and focus not on how much my kids need to test their boundaries can be a pain in my tuckus, but on how great it is that they don't have fear to do so.

Photo by beardenb

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