This week our D Moms Daily contributor Kay Wyma reminisces on how she handled parenting small children the first time around and, in the process, realizes what really matters.
By Kay Wyma
“You know, when you were that age, I had friends over for you almost every day.”
“Really?” asked my teenage daughter as we sat on a park bench watching her younger brother.
Poor boy has no friends. Unless their last name is Wyma. Then he has four friends. Four best friends.
“Look how happy he is,” she said.
He was happy. He had found a classmate from school whose family also parked it to enjoy spectacular February weather. They were racing around the playground playing tag. In between zig-zagging aversions from each other, they peppered their racing with bouts of ninja moves.
My daughter laughed out loud. “Oh my word… he’s such a geek!”
His friend looked smooth. The kid’s moves were cool. He even had plastic ninja nunchucks to top off the stealth style. On the other hand, our little guy, was hilarious, literally tripping as he tried to copy cool ninja-boy’s rolls. But he couldn’t have cared less. It’s one of the things I love the most about that kid.
“Yeah,” I agreed, “but a happy geek. And a friendly geek.” Jack had introduced himself to most of the kids at the park, striking up a friendship with several. He included anyone who wanted to join in their game without so much as a care as to whether one of the new additions would tag and make him the dreaded “it”.
“So you had people over for me every day?” my teen asked again.
“Pretty much,” I replied
And the truth is, I did. She and her older brother had play dates every day. If not playdates, outings. We made the circuit – often. The libraries, museums, theaters, lessons, teams, parties, classes, mom groups, MDOs, gyms, playgroups, playgroups, and more playgroups. With my first kid – four (!) of them. I wish I was kidding. Almost one for every day of the week. I didn’t want them to be left out… or behind. Quite the contrast to our last kid who had none… and nary a friend.
So as I watched that geeky little kid happily run around the play equipment without a care in the world, I realized two things.
- Time flies. Seriously. It was just yesterday that my 16-year-old (along with his hoard of playgroup friends) was doing the same thing.
- Most of those things that we crazily race and do to make life go well for our kids really don’t matter.
“Are you crying?!” my daughter asks in disbelief.
“Maybe.” I reply. Brushing an involuntary tear from my eye. The older I get, the sappier I am.
“You are so embarrassing,” she eye-rolled and laughed.
At least this was better than yesterday when she and one of her friends walked up behind me.
“Mrs. Wyma?” floated her friend.
“Um… I think your shirt is inside out.”
Apparently it was. And had been all day.
“Didn’t you speak somewhere today?” my teen asked, slightly disturbed.
What could I say? “… Maybe.”
At least I’m consistent. And hopefully wiser for the wear.
As I watch my carefree, incredibly well-adjusted kid, I hope I’m learning what’s important.
So, here’s to not worrying about or cratering to all the pressures. Here’s to loving the socks of those kids. Here’s to letting them run like geeks knowing full well that when I’m (they’re) concerned about what others think – “others” aren’t watching. (They’re far more concerned about what people are thinking about them.) Here’s to slowing down and to leaving room a lot more room for unscheduled, well, everything.
Then maybe I can be more like Jack. Embracing the moment and gathering all those around to do the same.
Kay Wyma is the author of Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement. She shares the hilarity and the tears that come with raising adolescents & teens on her blog The Moat … because who wants to walk that road alone.