This word pretty much sums up my parenting strategy lately. And yesterday, when both I and six-year-old Sam awoke grumpy, there was a whole ‘lotta coddiwompling. My irritability increased throughout the day. So did Sam’s. School was choppy. As I read The Burgess Bird Book For Children, I couldn’t help but notice his glazed-over eyes as he slumped in his seat. But I kept my eye on the prize: a 4:00 pm date with a 4-mile trail in the most beautiful 700-acre park nearby. Alone. Without kids. Just me and nature.
At long last, 4:00 arrived and I sprinted for the front door. Finally-Me Time. I glanced over my shoulder as I closed the door, yelling “Thank you” to my husband for keeping the kids, only to see Sam slouching on top of an end table. Grumpy. Lashing out at siblings. Bored. Eyes glazed over. Not his most endearing traits. Yet in that moment, I felt so much compassion for him. I saw me. And I realized we were experiencing the same kind of day and that commanding him to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘just be happy….or nice…or good’ would be as helpful to him as it would’ve been to me. Not so much. And just like that, the very person I longed all day to escape, I suddenly felt compelled to invite to join me….in the woods…in the rain…for a 4 mile run.
Maybe I can help him.
It took him about 15 seconds to slip into his boots (he’s really embracing the South) and haul his bike into the trunk of the van.
As we drove to the trails, we started talking. Not a scripted parental talk. Just talking. Like 2 people trying to figure out life.
Me: What are you feeling today?
Me: Me too. When did you first notice you felt this way?
Sam: Right when I woke up.
Me: Me too. What do you think might be causing this?
Sam: I think I’m tired.
Me: Wow! That would make sense. We were out late with friends last night and didn’t get as much sleep as we normally would. I hadn’t even thought of that!
Maybe he can help me.
We spent the next 4 miles mostly in silence. He rode his bike, occasionally pointing out cardinals and sparrows as described in our reading of The Burgess Bird Book that morning- the book I thought he was totally despising- and we did a lot of smiling. And I think we did a lot of healing.
Maybe we can help each other.
Toward that as-yet-unkown destination.