This is a train track my son built a week ago, his first full build with just minimal assistance from his dad (unlike yesterday’s track). I’m rather proud of it because I am “that mom”: the one who doesn’t sit her kid down to read, hasn’t taught her 3-year-old to sing nursery rhymes, the alphabet, numbers, or colours and shapes. And yet, he built this.
I realised I am “that mom”: the one who takes her son to see “The Mockingjay” and whispers in his ear how ideological differences between people can push sectors of society to revolt against the system, brings him to business meetings near and far, hums “Hotel California” in hopes of getting him to sleep, and paints with him on the sidewalk, determining that the resulting mess can be cleaned up later.
I am “that person”: who learns the hard way and has to push the boundaries I desire to fight so I can either get my way or find a compromise I can accept. And that is how I’m teaching my son.
It’s not easy. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve counted hours and days observing him for signs of a concussion after he’s hit his head. I cannot express well enough how my heart and my breath find themselves lodged in my throat as he runs around, heedless of walls, furniture, and electrical cords. I cannot explain how I have such faith in a 3-year-old boy that I allow him to reach for his shoes by standing on a stool that places him at a 2-foot drop to the floor.
All you will see in the outside is a mother who watches her son either stoically or amusedly, depending on what he’s up to. You will see a mother who is calm (usually) and sometimes quick to chastise, especially when her son hurts someone.
I’ve allowed this because, more often than not, he manages to surprise us by what he learns through interaction and example. His skills of observation are extraordinary and he has been quick in figuring out how to solve problems, if occasionally impatient. He knows how to negotiate, when to be firm with his refusal, and when he must relent. He knows what is expected of him while constantly testing his boundaries.
And he’s learning. Every single moment he is learning.
Some parents choose to sit their kids down for study time. We will have that someday. For now I prefer having the kid who watches his Papa build train tracks and later, builds his own.