Sometimes when you least expect it someone does something simply lovely and gracious.
When Little S had her sleepover last week, one of the children left her glasses behind. Or rather, it was thought that one of the girls left her glasses behind. I tore the house apart looking for the glasses. Unmade all the beds, took the mattresses off, took the books off the shelves, cleared out all the toys, went through each and every drawer, unfolded all the clothes, refolded and put them away, took everything out from under the beds, took the quilt out of the cover, put it back on, took it off again. I did everything I could think of looking for the glasses, and could not find them.
It was after about two hours of looking that I really started to panic. How could we have let a child leave without properly checking to see if she had her glasses? This is an important thing. What kind of parents are we, and how could we just automatically trust that a child is telling the truth when being asked a question. We need to be more vigilant, less trusting, more proactive. We need to make sure that we change everything that we’re doing so that this type of thing could never happen again. Because I do not want to be that parent, the absent-minded non-reactive un-invovled bungling fool. Why didn’t I make her put on her glasses before leaving our house. Sending her out blind into the world. Ego cleverly whispering ‘shame, shame on you’ into my dull ear. What kind of parents are we? What kind of parent am I?
The self-doubt is awful. The questioning is so overly neurotic that it is beyond humorous, possibly even pathological. Sitting on the floor of my children’s room, all I could think was that I was failing as a parent. Fully and completely failing as a parent; that there’s a saccharin bowl of jelly blubbering on the floor, frantically looking for a little pink pair of glasses whilst coming to terms with the painfully obvious fact that the sleepover test had been failed. It was quite the spectacle. When my wits were just about tittering over the edge (as if the neurosis could possible be any worse?), turning into a sort of annoyed inner anger, the phone rang. After six hours of looking everywhere, the glasses were found wrapped-up within a pair of pajamas in the inner confines of the owner’s backpack.
Humility. Sanity. Vindicated. Thank goodness. I couldn’t understand how Little House could have swallowed the glasses leaving no trace, but still realizing how much there still is to learn about parenthood.
Obviously, things still need to change. We are often a little too lackadaisical. We are not helicopter parents. We let the kids make their own mistakes, believe in them fully, believe that they will learn at their own pace, encourage them to follow their desires and we fully and completely believe in the importance of play, of being a child; because these years of complete and utter childhood joy are all too short. Sometimes we spend too much time enjoying ourselves. We are free and easy. We live at our own slow pace, and pull against being constrained by what we should be doing as parents. We can always do better. We should always be ready to edit ourselves to grow and to learn. Always know that we are capable of doing and being so much more.
So today, after Little S’s birthday party after a stunningly superb summer’s day at the park, shortly after arriving home there was a knock at the door. And there was the parent of the little pink glasses owner, with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, apologizing for putting us through such turmoil. So unexpected. So incredibly thoughtful and sweet. So completely unnecessary, but so completely appreciated. We do our best. All of us.