Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Eye of the Beholder

My sister returned my son to me this afternoon, after a day at the zoo. I ask her how he behaved, and she replies, "I am really sorry Erin, I almost lost your son today." Perhaps this comment would upset most mothers, but me? Nope, I am not surprised, nor bothered by this statement in the least. He IS my son afterall, and I know how he is. In fact, I would have been utterly shocked if she said the excursion was uneventful. Apparently, while he was eating popcorn out of the wagon (as he had been doing all morning) she thought it safe to turn around and place a quarter in the machine to retrieve some goat feed. How long does that take? 15, 20 seconds, tops? Well, just long enough for a toddler, well-practiced in the art of running, to disappear from sight. She goes on to say, "I always thought those little backpack leash devices for children were just ridiculous, but Brock makes me rethink this invention."

In every mother's eyes, their child is perfect. I would change nothing about Brock, nothing. But I have come to realize, that had he been born to a "lazy" mother, she might describe him as a difficult child. I am defining a lazy mother, as one who would rather sit and play, or read, or whatnot. One who when outside would rather just stroll along, or when at the park, would prefer to sit on the bench and observe as their child plays. One who would like the option of letting the kid out of their sight for less than 30 seconds knowing their little one will not have strayed more than 3 feet. And if the toddler were to wander, they'd hope it would become worried and turn around within, I don't know, a house length/ 15 yards or so. This is a perfectly acceptable "mother type" to be differentiated from a neglectful mom - which is absolutely not tolerated.

Fortunately, my high energy son, was provided with a high energy mother (all the time, except during pregnancy). For he does not turn around after 15 yards, nor 30, nor even 50 most of the time (further distances have yet to be tested...) And if he thinks you are following him, then it turns into a dead sprint to get away, and you have no option but to chase, because you never know when far is too far for him. And usually there is a street that hits before the limit of his comfort zone. He will generally play well at a playground, but eventually, curiosity gets the better of him, and off to wandering, or drinking from other mother's coffee mugs, or trying to open other people's car doors. He does have moments of "quiet play" but this usually just means he is tired. That child is either full steam ahead or down for the count. Being used to his antics, I consider him to be a very well-behaved, wonderful son. Even when his adventuresome attitude result in near heart attacks for mom.

{Photos from January of 2010}
While shopping in Gymboree one afternoon, I was waiting in the checkout line, as Brock played on the little chairs they have set up in front of a TV showing children's programs. I could only see his feet, but I watched them near continually. I sincerely don't remember ever turning my sight from him, but it must have happened, because I suddenly realized, those were not Brock's shoes. I hopped out of line, walked back to the area, saw him nowhere, adrenaline pumping, chest palpitations and all, then began to panic. The doors to the store were wide open, and lead straight to the street/parking lot. As I beeline it toward the doors, I see a woman holding Brock's hand attempting to guide him back into the store, she smiles and says, "Oh, is he yours? I found him about to step into the street." She might as well have said, "So, you're the irresponsible, unfit mother, letting your 18 month old wander on his own?" I apologetically admit to him being mine, and she adds, "I totally understand, my son does the same thing; my daughter won't leave my side, but he could care less." I was shocked and relieved. Shocked because I didn't know people like that still existed, especially in Johnson County. (My last visit to this shopping center, someone called the cops on a mom who left her van parked outside Gap with her 2 children in it while she ran into a store in the pouring rain - not that I think it's a good idea, nor would I ever do this, but it's not my business, why get authorities involved?) Relieved because I had found my son.

What I am trying to say, is the more I think about it, the more I realize that child-rearing is all in the eye of the beholder. What seems like an exhausting, ill-behaved child to one, can be considered just a curious, highly-active child to another.


Maggie said...

Funny you said this reminded you of us - it is exactly what I'm dealing with on a daily basis. currently it is 11am, my son, in a "do it myself phase" has passed out with only one leg inhis pants, on his floor. he wants pour the milk in his cup "all by myself", diaper himself, dress himself, get into chairs/beds/buckle in carseat by himself... each unsuccessful event causes a huge tantrum. Oh the joys of independent boys!!!

you have to just let it roll.

oh, and I almost lost Aiden through the airport security line yesterday when I tried to collapse his stroller and not hold onto him. He will be on the terrorist "do not fly" list by the age of 3.

Margaret said...

Maybe we should have a "mommy & me" trip with all of the hoosier women blessed with spirited boys! Maybe somewhere we can really test their skills and laugh about it together while others think we're out of our minds :). I can't believe you're adding another one to the mix soon!! xoxo

Ashley Hall said...

This is Dominick to a T. NOt only does he like running (or right now, crawling with a little walking mixed in), but he LOVES strangers. Most kids have that separation anxiety? Not ours. If we go to the mall play area he will literally crawl up to a stranger and hold his arms out as if he's asking to be picked up. Who does that???