Sunday, May 21, 2017

training wheels and grit

Derek is learning to ride his bike without training wheels. He can push off, go straight, turn, and even stop on his own. Most of the time. He's still learning. He's still figuring out how to consistently put together all the steps and stay balanced. 

The frustration of falling instead of turning, of putting his feet on the pedals and tipping instead of moving forward, of not being perfect every time is hard to deal with. 

It's hard for him and it's hard for me.

I'm trying to be patient, to be the calming influence that will help him keep going.

I want to teach him grit.

A few years ago I read something about grit being one of the strongest determining factors for success later in life. I don't think I have a lot of grit myself, but I want Derek to be better than me - so I'm trying. How do you tell a little guy, sobbing in the middle of the road and begging for his training wheels because he's just fallen for the fourth or fifth time, that it's worth it? 

I remember, as a kid myself, crying under the teacher's desk at school (my mom was the teacher so it might not be as weird as it sounds) because I wasn't perfect. Now I see the same behavior in Derek. I don't want him to give up and cry. I want him to try again. How do you teach that? Is it enough to try to pick him up and say let's go, and to just keep going yourself? Can I teach by encouragement and example? Or is there something more I should do?

Monday, May 15, 2017

I hate Mother's Day sometimes

I'm bored lately.

Bored. Bored. Bored.

Mother's Day was painful ... a day that celebrates a stilted ideal of soft voices and loving arms and blah, blah, blah ... and all I could do was count the flowers I wouldn't get. 

I remember passing out Mother's Day flowers in sacrament meeting in Ticaboo. My dad assigned me to hand one to Sister Ina Hanks. I was so nervous. She was gray and old and she was married to the math teacher! I was afraid of her. I was afraid I might have to hug her. I was afraid I would somehow screw up. But when it came time to hand her the flower, it just felt sweet and normal and I kissed her cheek without thinking about it. 

I remember at later sacrament meetings, when I was a teenager, happily laughing with embarrassment and absurdity when I was invited to take a flower too -- because all women are potential mothers, right? 

I don't know if they handed out flowers in sacrament meeting yesterday. Derek didn't want to sing with the primary children in the Mother's Day program and I didn't want to create a scene ... so we didn't sit in the chapel, but I didn't see people streaming out with flowers. In sharing time, though, some of the primary kids were randomly chosen to hand flowers to some of the moms (female teachers) and Derek grew progressively more and more desperate as the meeting slowly dragged by. He begged them to call him, over and over again he raised his hand and struggled to stay in his seat, bouncing up and down for the chance to choose a flower. I watched as he intensely tried to make eye contact with every kid that got a flower and quietly tried to direct them my way ... but we were both left disappointed. 

I put too much stock in flowers yesterday. I didn't want to leave my five-year-old feeling left out and alone too, but I didn't hide my feelings very well. I normally don't care. If I want flowers, I'll buy them myself--but  Mother's Day flowers have always been a thing at church. Even when I wasn't a mom, they were a thing - and I am a mom now. I knew Bobby wouldn't buy me any, which means Derek wouldn't give me any. but I thought I'd still get something ... and I didn't and I left church feeling grumpy and out of sorts.

Is that normal church-leaving feeling or am I alone in that?


One of our neighbors asked Derek if he gave me flowers. Why? I know he was just making friendly conversation, but he knows I'm not married--I'm as single as single can be, and it's not like five-year-olds can buy flowers on their own ... so why ask a question like that? Why? Poor Derek looked deflated, like he'd just been called out, he muttered something about being a bad son and I just smiled and babbled about the beautiful card he drew. 

I felt dumb and alone. I think we both did.

Derek tried to draw me a picture of flowers when we got home and I finally just ordered pizza and turned on Word Girl and we both curled up on the couch. For once, I actually wanted the weekend to hurry by a little faster. How crazy is that?