As Christian gets older, I find myself teaching him more and more life lessons (and repeating myself more and more). Sometimes I wonder if there really is any point in attempting to instill values or boundaries in an infant. He’s only eleven months. As I thought about it more, I realized the lessons I’m trying to teach him are lessons I’m still trying to teach myself.
1. To let go of things
Christian, as most infants and children, is in the stage where he finds an object, gets his death grip on it and NO ONE is taking it away from him. His latest material obsessions are his Pappy’s hairbrush, the TV remote control and of course, cell phones. It’s amazing we live in a time where BABIES know what a cell phone is and they know how important they are to adults because they want them all the time. It’s the first thing Christian goes for as soon as he spots one and when he finally gets his hands on a glorious phone, his face is pure joy. He finally got the forbidden treasure. Anyway, point is, when I take away these objects, he throws a fit. He cries and kicks and lets me know all about it. Obviously, this lasts about 15 seconds and is forgotten when I give him a new toy. But in that moment, it’s really hard for him to let go of that material object because he really, really, really wants it. I know he can live without it, but in that moment, he doesn’t know that. It really got me thinking about material objects and how we become so attached to them. I used to carry a really notable designer bag around and when I didn’t have it, I instantly felt more insecure about myself. Why? Why did this material object dictate how others viewed me and more importantly, how I viewed myself? Little man has taught me to let go of that bag and many other things that truly aren’t important. Sure, people might think I have money or good taste when they see a MK keychain hanging from my bag, but who cares? Do think they I’m a happy person? Or a generous person? How about gracious, kind and considerate? I’d much rather convey those qualities than rich and hip.
2. To stay away from things that can hurt you
How many times have you steered a child away from something that can physically hurt them? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve moved Christian away from doors about to be opened, hot ovens, knives in the dishwasher, glassware, sharp edges and he goes RIGHT back. This one is something I used to struggle with a lot more, but I think I’ve gotten better about it maturity and age, but mostly because I have a child now. Before I had Christian, I never really cared about being near danger, in fact sometimes I kind of craved it. I know that sounds like a super cheesy teen romance novel, but I liked the feeling of being a little on the edge. I liked being in the unknown. My mom is one of the moms that worried about everything bad that could happen to you. I used to work until 10pm at a Starbucks, and she would tell me to get the security guard to walk me out. I thought she was nuts. Yes, other people had gotten robbed at gunpoint at the same time in that parking lot, but it wouldn’t ever happen to me. Now I get it, she told me that because if anything ever happened to me, she would be devastated. As I would with Christian. Now I have him, so I’m ultra-aware of my surroundings at all times, because if something happens to me, who is gonna take care of him? Who is going to teach him all the important things he needs to know? Who is going to watch over him? Who is going to cheer for him at whatever he chooses to do in his life? I try not to worry about things too much, but now I think about things I never, ever thought of before. For example, running into a gas station to pay your pump with cash. I will never leave Christian in the car when I run in, even if it takes 10 seconds because someone could steal my car sitting at the pump, with him in it. God forbid, if anything ever happened to him, I truly don’t know if I could go on-especially if it was because I was being careless.
3. To praise little victories
All the tasks Christian completes in a day have become little accomplishments. I clap and cheer when he finishes a meal, eats at all, cooperates during diaper changes, doesn’t try to eat the dirt in the house plants, makes it in public without any meltdowns, takes a good nap, clicks his tongue, claps for himself, crawls really fast, crawls really slow, crawls at all, stands up, sits down, walks across the couch, listens when I say no, listens when I say yes, listens at all, responds to his name, responds to others, lets me give him kisses, lets me cuddle, splashes in the bath tub, plays with his toys, discovers a new talent and really just anytime he looks at me with those big brown eyes. Everything is new for him. Everything is a new victory. I’ve been learning to not be quite so hard on myself and celebrate the little victories I make throughout the day. My small victories today are: taking a shower, getting one of my reading assignments done, making Christian homemade pancakes (okay, they’re from a premade mix, anything not frozen counts as homemade in my book), being nice to people I really didn’t want to be nice to and watching half an episode of Weeds on Netflix. It may not sound like much, but I’m learning that it’s really the little things that get us through each day.
4. To let people help you
Sometimes I see so much of myself in Little man and I really hope they’re things he outgrows. He is so stubborn. He will fight me when I’m trying to help him because he wants to figure it out on his own. Seriously, scary. I’ve been learning how to use my stubbornness to my advantage and how it can be a good thing. It’s good I’ve been stubborn about not smoking cigarettes. It’s good that I was stubborn about continuing my pregnancy. It’s good that I’m stubborn now about how I’m going to raise little man. It’s good I’m stubborn about protecting him. However, now looking back there are A LOT of situations and decisions I made that it definitely wasn’t good that I was so stubborn. We won’t get into that, I don’t really want a walk down the hall of shame, but I’ve been slowly learning this year, how to let people help me. I don’t have to do it all on my own and a lot of times other people can see how I need help more than I can see it myself.
5. How to get out of tight spaces
Christian always gets stuck in the little tight spaces and he freaks out and throws a fit. I try to help him out and he pushes me away and panics even more. I’ve learned from watching him get stuck behind couches and underneath tables, that we all get in crappy situations sometimes where we feel stuck or like there is no way out. It is then that we have to remind ourselves to relax and don’t panic. There is always a way out if there is a way in.