It’s been a rough couple weeks.
Son has started exhibiting the telltale signs of over stimulation, over tiredness, over commitment and over induction to Kindergarten. You know the drill – tears upon hearing the first of my many “No’s” for the day; angry looks and comments when I don’t jump-to-it at his first request; and a push, grab or punch to little Sister and to me when his pot boils over all too quickly these days.
Kindergarten “long days” started the week before last and he arrives home on the bus at 4 pm two days a week. All his robust energy and goodwill get used up in the myriad activities and social negotiations he manages in school all day. I get the leftovers. And they’re pretty slim pickins.
The weekends have been packed with soccer, birthday parties and play dates; leaving little time for rest and undirected play. By this Sunday night, Son and I were both slightly bruised from the harsh words, threats, and push/pull we’d traded all weekend long.
And then began the Competition. Son requested a “Competition” for Daughter and him after dinner. Uncertain what this meant, I concocted an event that was part scavenger hunt, obstacle course and performance piece.
Since Daughter had recently made two “beds” on the family room floor, my first task was for the kids to lie still with their eyes closed for ten seconds (borrowed from a similar standing exercise in karate class). Next, they had to bring me a plastic animal from the playroom (extra points for helping each other out), then do ten jumping jacks.
I, the judge, rated them on each activity and made it a tie. Bolstered by the lack of tears or fighting, I put more creativity into the second round. This time, the entire Competition revolved around cooperation – finishing first wasn’t the key to winning – teamwork was!
They started out lying down again and sang the Alphabet Song – in unison. Then, they had to get a spoon out of the kitchen drawer, go up to their rooms and put a shirt on over their outfits and bring me something, anything, from their rooms. And don’t forget the spoon, too!
We proceeded like this for a good half an hour and the activities escalated to a costume contest (I interviewed each character), to writing their names on paper, to bringing their two favorite books and telling me about each one.
For the final event, I asked them to dress up, make me something to eat (in the play kitchen) and tell me a secret. I didn’t say anything about what the secret should be. I just said, “Tell me a secret.”
Son was first and leaned in close to my ear. He held his hand up to cover his mouth and whispered strong and clear:
“I want you to save the world – and all my friends – and love me.”
It was, innocently and brazenly, his secret wish. A wish of hope and expectation and embodying all that he expects of me every minute of every day.
No biggie, really. He just wants me to be a superhero, his own private SuperMom. And this silent, precious wish is why my slightest off kilter day rocks his little being. Why an impatient glance from Mommy when he’s overspent from the rest of the world, brings anger, tears, and tantrums.
Then Daughter leaned in close. She hadn’t heard a word of Son’s secret but covered her mouth and spoke clearly as well:
“I want Daddy to love me and kiss me and I want love and you and….”
And I don’t remember the rest. I was so moved by the release of these secret wishes from their childish souls that I simply sat and let the beauty of their words blow through me – cascade through a mommy soul that was saturated with too many demands and yells and punishments and secret pleas for peace.
They both insisted, of course, to do the final event one more time. They changed costumes, brought me plastic tomatoes and toast, and once again, their secret desires.
Son put his arms around my neck and pulled my ear close to his lips.
“I want you to save the world – and all my friends. And I want to be your partner and help.”