Have you ever heard the old saying – “bigger kids, bigger problems?” It might seem pessimistic to think things with my kids will only get worse as they get older, but instead I try to keep this saying in mind to calm me when I’m worrying about something with one of my two small kids. Yes, whatever is going on is hard, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big. And while it usually does settle me down about whatever it is I’m stressing out about, it also usually breaks my heart to imagine the things that they could face when they’re older. If the little things are tough, the big things are bound to really test you as a parent.
For instance, my daughter started a new school in September. Some might call it non-traditional (it’s Montessori). Now, I went to Montessori preschool and my mom is a retired Montessori preschool teacher, so luckily I know what my three year old is talking about when she comes home telling us that today she folded the laundry and had a lesson on the binomial cube. But my heart broke when I asked her what friends she sat with at lunch during those first few days and she answered, “no one.” Long story short, they sit at tables of two or so, and several kids sometimes choose to sit alone. She was not at all upset about sitting alone and still sometimes does. But holy moly did my heart hurt for her. And then, of course, I start thinking about all of the heartache I’m going to have to deal with as a mom of two girls.
Just the other day she asked me if our dog Izzie will grow up to be a person and when I said no, she said, “well, then she’ll be our dog for forever and ever.” Yep. She sure will kiddo. I can’t even begin to tackle that one yet.
Another example: We had a policeman at our house about something silly, but we used it as a learning experience. If you ever need help and mommy and daddy aren’t around, find a policeman. To which my three year old replied that she would find a policeman next time she couldn’t get her puzzle box open! Thank goodness we haven’t taught her to dial 911 yet! So that got me thinking about the trouble she could be in where she’d need a policeman – cue the tears!
And a final example: My three year old had a really fun tradition going on with my father. About once a week, they would go to a local bakery, get a sample of bread, buy a loaf and sit on the window seat reading books and watching the goings-on of our quaint downtown. Then they’d take a stroll through downtown, past the hardware store, the bank, the barbershop and the breakfast place with the blue table. It was their thing – finally someone who walks as slow as she does! But then, there was a fire and our beloved “bread store” burned. The building was finally demolished this past week. We drive by it at least once a day. We say things like “bummer” and “what a shame” and she asks us what those things mean and why we are sad about it and why can’t we go there again? We try our best to explain. But I also fear explaining too much – I don’t want her to be worried about a fire at our house. This event was just a little preview – I’m sure I’ll have many difficult things to have to explain as she grows up.
This parenting thing is tough and it gets tougher I think. Changing diapers and trying to get a three year old to eat her dinner is nothing compared to soothing broken hearts and explaining loss to a child! They really don’t come with an instruction booklet?