“Mom! His sword fell into the water! Mom! Look!” Spense calls as he manipulates his Playmobile.
I look. I stop whatever I’m doing to look. I always do. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing ever to abandon sweeping croissant crumbs mid sweep or put a dish down mid wash or stop stirring the sauce or stop folding laundry, but I do it. Sometimes, I just don’t want to look at another little plastic knight sword fight another plastic knight, that I’m supposed to recognize as the bad guy.But I do.
“Mom. Mom. Mom. Look,” he says. RELENTLESSLY. Until I look and give him my undivided attention.
Why do I stop everything to look and watch? Because:
- I can. I’m there. I’m home. I can stop what I’m doing to look.It’s part of being present.
- Because he wants to share what’s important to him with me. That means I’m important to him. I’m happy I’m important enough to him to want to share with me. I also believe that if I let him know his pose upside down on the couch means a lot to me, then in ten years, he may feel like he wants to share with me the kids who offered him pot or whatever. I want him to grow up knowing that I always have time for him. I want him to know that whatever is important to him is important to me.
- I believe that when I give him my attention, it builds his confidence. He feels that what he does or says matters. Because if your mom doesn’t care… than who will?
One time, I watched him make a stuffed animal and an Elf on a Shelf dance to Baby It’s Cold Outside for a good two minutes, possibly longer. It felt longer. I was mid sentence, writing an email and after many rounds of “Mom. Mom. Mom, look. Mom, look,” I stopped typing and just surrendered with a big smile on my face watching the show. Anytime my eyes strayed down, I got a “Mom. Mom. Mom, look.”
It’s almost like he’s testing me. Does she really care?
There are times I tell him “Give me a minute…” but I don’t ever want to dismiss him.
“Mom. Mom. MOM, look…” this time, he’s boxing an imaginary opponent. Often, he’s pretending to knock himself out with those pchew pcheww sounds I remember boys in my elementary school made. Sometimes, it’s sword fighting he needs me to see.
He’s almost 5 now. He’s just started to play by himself, in his room. He’s not going to be including me too much longer. And that’s what I tell myself as I watch and smile and nod. I always want to be included in his thoughts. Today it’s watching his toys dance or sword fight, tomorrow it might be listening to his adolescent fears or concerns. I believe it’s connected.
Make these little guy’s days matter as much as possible.