Mom, can’t we please go to the park?” seven-year-old Elisa asked as she pulled on my arm.
Arghh. I’d just settled—finally—into the recliner for a little coffee break after working all afternoon at my in-home office. I’ll get so cold standing on that playground watching her! Do I have to? I thought.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather cuddle and read a story?” I asked.
“Aww, c’mon, Mom. I want to swing on the monkey bars.”
Sigh. “Okay,” I said, struggling to hide my exasperation. I knew she simply had to get outside to do something active or she’d beg me all evening to take her out. It was simply the way she was wired. Chalk up one more to the sacrifices of motherhood. I got our coats.
At the park, I impatiently shifted my feet back and forth. I blew out my white breath. I clapped my gloves together to keep warm. “Just ten more minutes!” I called out, as Elisa shimmied up a pole to some very high bars.
She swung powerfully, back and forth, back and forth. Startled out of my discomfort and impatience, I marveled at her coordination, and not for the first time.
“Wow, that’s great!” I cried out. I never could have done that as a kid—nor would I have even wanted to! What makes her that way? She obviously didn’t inherit the klutz gene from me.
While Elisa played, I thought about how she’d always used her whole body to express her personality. She never walked downstairs, she leapt—four steps at a time. She was compelled to get in her quota of at least 1,642 cartwheels per day. I wondered: when was it that she first earned the nickname Monkey?
Perhaps it was when, at age two and a half, she declared she’d climb the rock wall at the outdoor store REI (and did so a few short years later). Or perhaps it was the day when she was only sixteen months old when, horrified, I spotted her crawling across the top of the monkey bars on our backyard swing set. As I ran to save her, she nonchalantly climbed back down! Hmm. Or was she already our Monkey at a mere three months, incessantly standing on our laps as we held her? I wondered: if she could have grabbed my rib cage before she was born, would she have swung from that? What makes her so nimble and so adventurous?
Suddenly I realized we had to scoot to make it to Costco before the store closed. Elisa and I left the park, picked up Aimee, and I fought traffic as the kids bickered in the backseat.
“Stop that!” I said.
“It’s her fault!” they chorused.
“It takes two to make a fight!” I replied very loudly and impatiently. (And that made three.)
As we entered the warehouse, Elisa’s face lit up at the sight of those wonderfully wide, long aisles. She impulsively cartwheeled through the office-supply section. I cried, “Look out!” as her foot nearly connected with a customer’s chin. I apologized, embarrassed. Frustration mounted as I approached the long checkout lines.
Later that evening, I guiltily looked forward to a quiet house with kids nestled in their beds. But my first request to “Get on your PJs and brush your teeth now” fell on deaf ears, as Elisa attempted some last-minute acrobatics.
“Okay, okay,” I grumbled, “just three more somersaults down the hall and that’s it—uh-oh! Watch the lamp!” So much for the trip to the park to help release her energy.
Eventually, Elisa’s sweet, high voice called from down the hall, “Mommy, Daddy, tuck-in!” We went into her room and bent over for the obligatory chain of butterfly kisses, fishy kisses, and Eskimo kisses. But as I nuzzled her soft face, I was drawn in. I lingered. My little pixie grinned charmingly—minus a few teeth the tooth fairy had taken—and sighed, “You’re the best mom in the whole wide world!”
Hardly, I thought. Yet my heart lifted. A grin tugged at the corners of my mouth as I recalled Costco cartwheels, somersaults down the hall…and her enthusiasm for life and tenderness toward me. My weariness from caring for an energetic child was replaced by delight in her and the privilege of being her mother. I’m so glad I’m her mom, I thought as I switched off the light. I couldn’t wait to tuck in Aimee next!
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 1 in: Delight in Your Child’s Design, Second Edition, Copyright 2016, Laurie Winslow Sargent. All Rights Reserved.
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