Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Taking the Leap

Today I learned two things:

1. Amari's little two-year old body is perfectly designed to survive an unintentional, inelegant roll down our flight of stairs.

2. Be it in writing, words, or even thoughts, one should never tempt the universe with over-confidence in that which one knows is ever-changing and always fleeting.

The second lesson actually began last night. I had one of the best days I've ever had as a parent. Amari woke up in a good mood and hit the ground running. She didn't complain about transitions, put her shoes on by herself, pooped in the potty - things were looking up. When we hit the sometimes crowded, often unpredictable local playground it was completely empty except for the two kids we were meeting there. Could it get any better? Yes, it could. Fifteen minutes later, Amari was taking her first solo trips down the big kid slides she'd always been afraid of. What was going on here?

Next up, toddler yoga. Hit or miss up 'til this point - one week Amari was all about the tree pose, the next one she stuck with shivasana (the corpse pose) across my lap for thirty minutes. This week, she was like I'd never seen - except occasionally on way too much sugar or way to little sleep. She was out-going, funny, doing poses, making noises, rolling on the ground, giggling, dancing. It was so great to see her enjoying herself so much. She's like that at home a lot, but I hadn't seen her cut loose like that in a social setting.

I loved it.

After yoga, we had lunch with Mama at the high school, then went home for a nap that was long enough and deep enough that I could put on the monitor, get an hour of exercise in and still have some time to relax. This was unbelievable. Post-nap the good vibrations continued. We built a fort, picked up mom, and had a yummy picnic dinner on the living room floor. That was when I made my fatal mistake.

Sitting on the couch by our blazing wood stove, listening to the lilting sounds of the bathtub filling over a chorus of Amari chattering and music playing, I reflected on the day and thought to myself, "This is awesome. What a great age. I totally have this parenting thing dialed." I may have even gone on to toot my own horn even more and wonder how on earth I would be able to relate to other parents at the next bitch session.

Big mistake. Huge. Next thing I know it's taking an hour for Amari to fall asleep, while I lay there cursing myself for even thinking such stupid thoughts.

Today, and I'll hyphenate as I've learned to do with almost everything, was an F-ing N-mare. The details aren't important, as I'm sure everyone has had a day like this in one of its insundry forms. Mine came in the shape of a moody two year-old and a mother-in-law. It was a day of spills and falls and bad timing. Even when I tried to go with flow, breathe in the bad day and breathe out acceptance, it backfired.

The first incident was the staircase. I have a rule I try to enforce where Amari is not allowed to carry things up or down the stairs. I feel like she has enough to focus on as it is. Recently she has taken to sliding down the (carpeted) stairs backwards on her stomach. It's fast and fun and safe and I don't mind at all. Today she wanted to try going head-first. I said, "I don't think that's a good idea." She tried anyway and got stuck on the first stair.

Later on, despite my rules and suggestions, Amari carried two "Little People" (small plastic toys) up the stairs. I can only imagine that she then tried to roll down the stairs with them, because the next thing I heard was "" By the time I got to the landing, she was bouncing off the second to last step into my outstretched arms. I did dramatize it a bit - a la Grady Sizemore - and dive unnecessarily after the catch. Amari was red-faced and in tears, burying her face in my chest, saying some incoherent things between sobs, and all the while clutching firmly to the "Little People" she had obviously saved from injury.


The day went on...and on...and I can't even remember why it sucked so much at this point. Like childhood amnesia spares children from the horrific memories of birth and teething and lousy parenting, we parents have a similar mechanism that allows us to block out the hard days and continue to love and adore our children the next.

Later on, the days of adolescence are too vivid to repress and we look forward to them going off to college, getting a job, joining a cult, or whatever else will get them out of the house. So in this moment, I humbly think, write, and say out loud, "I have nothing dialed." Like my recovery from alcoholism. All I have is today.

Amari with her various Homies

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