I'LL ALLOW IT
Right now I have one child who cannot get close enough and one child who cannot build a big enough barricade.
The boy wants to sit on my lap, do computer school from Joe’s shoulders and just be exactly next to someone all the time always. Sometime in the middle of the night, as I gently rolled him off my head and tried to nestle him between us in the big bed, he reached out for my arm and mumbled in his sleep, “snuggle machine.”
This morning, his sister told me this kind of behavior really needs to stop. A 7 year old should know how stay in their own bed! I think what he doesn’t know how to do yet is explain the many complex feelings involved with being alive these days (adults can’t either ps) and he’s showing us what he needs.
I’ll allow it.
His sister, on the other hand, uses all the words. In all the tones and volumes. That child can make the air molecules in the room stand still with her simple, but incisive emotional insights and questions. She prefers to watch a movie, or “have some thoughts” all by herself without anyone else occupying emotional / mental / physical space. (I’ll allow and not just because same). Yesterday, she spent the whole afternoon on her own and didn’t want to come out for dinner, but once we all cheered / jeered the food (because #farro #mixedfeelings and we’re still practicing that the only response to food lovingly cooked and placed before you is THANK YOU #They’llGetItWhenImDead) and we could relax into chatting (and by that I mean poop jokes) she mentioned she really wanted to have a sleepover night.
No. Without a thought.
But she kept talking (using all the words in all the volumes and tones) so I did something I’ve been practicing lately: I stopped listening to what she was saying, in hopes of hearing what she was really trying to tell me.
Shutting up is almost always the parenting answer, because I heard a weary human being asking for a chance to come out and be together.
I took a U turn and not only agreed to the new plan but volunteered to slice and bake the chocolate chunk shortbread as a treat. As the kids skipped around, singing, inviting every stuffie ever made to the party, I tried to avoid eye contact with Joe Gabriel, who was looking at me like I’d lost my damn mind. Actually, I think he was looking past me into the abyss of betrayal and unrelenting insanity that accompanies any kind of “sleepover.” #thehorror
After the movie and the lull where they convince you they are calm and sleepy (and really going to sleep this time Joe!) (aka reading Raina Telgemeier and Derek Jeter) we turned out the lights and tip-toed away so they could start laughing hysterically, acting out stories with their stuffies and making inappropriate jokes I will never understand.
Just as I dozed off, my daughter announced she was all done with the fun now and there were too many thoughts flying around the ceiling in the living room so she needed to sleep in her bed. I assumed her little brother would do the same, but that child announced he needed some time with his book and this social creature stayed awake reading by a single lamplight. Only when I was genuinely asleep did he crawl into our bed and nuzzle into my neck.
Some things never change and some things change by the hour. Sometimes we know what we need but don’t know how to ask for it.
It’s a real privilege to practice listening, asking, serving, adjusting, loving. I feel like we have never had a chance to tune in to each other like this and our life has never been more full of LIFE.
I’ll allow it.