“Mommy, look.” “Mommy, would you play with me?” “Mommy, can I…”
“Wait just a minute.”
I find myself saying it all the time. And while I feel like it’s justified every time I say it, I still feel guilty.
I remember getting frustrated when Nick was younger, about four years old, because he constantly wanted me to watch him do things. Sometimes all he did was jump in place. Other times it was something else: singing, dancing, riding his bike. I find myself remembering those days (Six years ago… Has it been that long?) now when Trent does the same thing. He asks me to watch him pour water on himself in the tub, or chase Atticus around, or this or that. I feel like I give my kids plenty of attention. So why do I feel guilty when I just want to finish a round of Candy Crush in peace? Or when I just want to update my Facebook status?
Kids don’t ask much. They just want out time, attention, love, guidance, and discipline. They need attention so they know whether they’re doing right or wrong. They need our attention to help build their self-esteem. And it had taken me an embarrassingly long amount of time to realize that, while on the surface it may not seem like everything they want me to watch is amazing, it actually is amazing that they want me to watch. They love me and depend on me and that includes ending my attention and verification for…well, everything.
I’m trying to give my kids quality interactions and I’m trying not to minimize what they think is important. I firmly believe in respecting others’ perspective; my kids’ perspective is very limited because their time here on earth has been limited. I have a few years on them.
Trent thinks Disney Infinity is the greatest thing ever. He thinks his big brother Nicholas is the smartest and coolest guy in the world. He thinks I look like a princess. Atticus thinks waking up alone at night is so scary, and when I disappear for a moment alone in the bathroom he only just starting to realize I’m not gone forever. Nick, at ten, is starting to see how he and his interests and me and mine and his brothers and theirs fit into a big picture. What a vast difference these three have in their perspectives.
Every interaction I have with my kids is meaningful to them and it should be to me, too. Today when Trent asked me to watch him pour water out of a cup it was initially just that to me: water spilling out of a little plastic cup. But to him it was something important, something worth showing me. Who knows what his imagination transformed it into? I have two choices: I can validate his amazement at the little things and let him know that, regardless of how important or insignificant something seems, if it is important to him it is important to me. Or, I can blow him off and give him the impression that what he has to say isn’t important.
My kids are important and special. I will focus on making sure they always know that.