While it may not come as much of a surprise to you that I think about my kids a lot during a typical day, I do want to share that I’ve been makings steps towards being more mindful about what I say around and to them. Some of that goes back to the unfortunate language coming from the four-year-old’s mouth on occasion, but a lot of it is coming from the developing language of the two-year-old. Raegan is in that beautiful phase of toddler language that I just love. You can see the wheels turning when she speaks and she takes such delight in copying everything from sounds to tone to facial expressions of pretty much anything HD says. While she makes up her own words and phrases from time to time (seek-a-boo for peek-a-boo is my all-time fave), she’s got a pretty good grip on talking (for just turned two, anyway). Just yesterday she watched me stack her snack cup on a box of crackers and grinned as she said, “You balancing!” OK, it sounded like “Ewe bawancesing” but I’m her mama, I get it. 😉
Cuteness aside, there have been two word things happening here lately with RL that have given me pause. The first was that I found myself speaking for her/about her out in public quite a bit. If you’ve ever read my stories about Miss Raegan, you know she’s a pretty spunky and bright little personality. Lots of fun and LOTS of noise from that child! But that’s really just at home. Out and about she’s much more reserved and tends to hide in my shoulder or hair or behind my legs if people try to talk to her (which they often do because she’s petite and sweet and how can you resist?). And all of the sudden I realized that for no apparent reason other than to make idle conversation, I started trying to explain her and her behavior to these people, most of whom are total strangers. I would say things like “She’s shy” or “She’s the loudest little person I know at home” and while the latter is certainly true, the former is probably not.
I don’t know that Raegan is shy. She might just be more cautionary of new people (or maybe it’s a typical two-yr-old thing), or as one friend put it, she might just take time to warm up to people. And so I find myself not wanting to put that “shy” label on her. It’s not my place to say what she is just because she’s not willing and ready to giver every person out there the same vivaciousness she gives us on a regular basis. I can give her the space and time to figure out what she is and in the meantime, if someone does question me/her on it, I can use the advice of another friend and say, “She might be feeling shy today.” There’s a big difference between feeling and being, if you ask me. Plus, as an introvert, I way totally so, so, so get her vibe if she doesn’t always feel like talking to people. Hello, why do you think I write so much?!
Our other word conundrum as of late has been the phrase, “It’s OK.” I’m sleep deprived again this week (thank you full moon and LT’s nursing habits!), so I can’t remember where I read it, but recently I came across a bit of parenting advice that warned against being so quick to say “It’s OK!” when our kids fall or are upset or hurt. The idea is that doing so can diminish their feelings and possibly make them feel like it is not OK to be upset. And that’s just silly. Of course it is OK to be upset! What’s important to remember (saying to myself just as much to my kiddos or to you) is that it will be OK in time. Maybe in five minutes, maybe five seconds, or maybe five months….eventually the hurt and worry and concern of today will ease and everything will be alright in the world again. I really do believe this. So why am I constantly trying to tell me kids “It’s OK” in a sing song voice when they are clearly not OK?
This week I’ve been trying to change my phrasing, going from the “is” to the “will be.” I can’t do it in every situation and you wouldn’t believe how many times I have caught myself reverting back to the old phrase, but I am making progress. Earlier this week Raegan woke up from a nap and was Upset. Crying, sucking in deep sobby breaths, UPSET when I went upstairs to get her from her crib. This happens on occasion (usually thanks to a nasty diaper or the fact that Daddy isn’t home) but there was no apparent explanation for this little post-nap meltdown. Thankfully both boys were occupied and safe downstairs, so I picked her up from her bed and settled down in the rocking chair with her. I didn’t say “It’s OK.” I didn’t say anything, actually. I just held her head in my lap and stroked her hair with one hand while holding her legs with the other. She cried and kept breathing heavy for a few minutes but then she calmed down, bit by bit until we were just sitting there rocking together in silence. Then she smiled and said she was ready to go downstairs. Just like that. I am so grateful for that experience together. And for the parenting tip about not trying to fix the hurt by saying it’s OK instantly. Because sometimes instances are painful and we have to learn how to work through the pain. On that day, at that time, holding my sweet girl helped her work through it. What a blessing. And as much as I wish it could always be that simple to ease her pain, I know it won’t be, which is why I want to hold that moment in my heart forever…to remember that even when she’s too big for me to cuddle in the rocking chair that I can still work to find ways to be a calming, safe presence for her. Because no matter how bad it gets, it will be OK eventually.