“Pick your battles”, that’s one of those timeless pieces of advice that get passed on from parent to parent, generation to generation. As a child grows from a swaddled- baby lotion smelling-bundle of love to an independent bundle of perpetual middle finger, it’s probably THE most important advice to hold on to. AND remember. Remembering is the hardest part. Today I actually remembered, and I think I will call it a draw. I still hold the advantage over my little Buzzsaw, solely because I know that getting him to adulthood is a day-to-day battle. He will figure it out when it’s his turn.
Another piece of advice that I have been desperately trying to hold onto and utilize is from a not-so-typical source. The advice?. . . Get Out Of Their Way. The advisor?. . . Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist and science communicator. This guy is a fucking ROCK. STAR. My husband, Bdawg, and I both have a bit of a nerd crush on him. Whenever we see him on a science show we are glued to the tube. He is just one of the cooliest science guys around. He makes the universe more tangible for someone like me; I don’t necessarily understand all the “space stuff”, but I find it facinating. He makes it a little less mind-boggling. Not an easy thing to do.
Over the summer, via Facebook, I found this really cool site (yes I am about to plug them because I think it is a really cool site) called Upworthy. They search for and post positive newsy things from across the internet. A few months ago they posted a video that Dr. Tyson made about how parents can get their kids interested in science. I’m calling it the “Get out of their way” video. Some of the greatest advice. Ever. Once and awhile I actually remember what he said and I step back, and I get out of my Buzzsaw’s way. Today was one of those days. A little bit. Because I DO have control issues and Buzzsaw is really about the only living being that I have any sort of ability to control. Sometimes.
Buzzsaw has started his pre-k level of pre-school. This means they are starting to prepare him for “real”” school next year. There is an awful lot to learn; things like self-control, manners, staying on task, letters, numbers, shapes, etc, annnnnd HOMEWORK. Dreadful to most of us, but important. Today they sent home his first homework. We have the weekend to get it done, but I was going thru it and we ended up doing a few things. One of the assignments was to look for circles in the child’s everyday environment. We can write them down, he can draw what he sees, or he can cut out pictures and paste them on the homework paper. He noticed that a balloon we still had was a circle, he saw that the top of the salt grinder was a circle, and he saw that a watchface in an advertisement flyer was a circle. I wrote the first two and suggested that he cut out the picture of the watch and then glue it on the homework sheet. This is where I had to remember to step back and pick my battle.
My son has always preferred his left hand over his right hand. But he also has these random moments of ambidextrousness. Today he started to use his scissors with his left hand then decided to use his right hand. When he switched to his right hand I noticed that he was only using his thumb and one finger to control the scissors. Being the control-freak parent that I can be at times, I tried showing him that using two fingers in addition to his thumb would make manipulating the scissors much easier. He got upset and let me know he didn’t want my advice. I’m a parent and an adult and I KNOW that what I am trying to show him is easier and better. I told him that he was making it more difficult for himself the way he was using the scissors. His reply?. . .” I LIKE doing it the difficult way. I like it difficult.” I could hear my parents laughing in my head. Seriously. I could actually HEAR them in my head. Followed by Dr. Tyson saying, “GET OUT OF THEIR WAY!” Yes, in my head, he actually shouted at me.
I said “okay” and watched him struggle to cut this picture out of the ad. I just assisted. I watched him hold the paper in such a way that he was bound to pinch his fingers with the scissors. He did. No blood, no tears, just a quiet “ouch”. I said nothing. I got out of his way and let him (mostly) figure it out on his own. Battle picked. Points to Buzzsaw.
Prior to this episode we went to Dunkin Doughnuts for the week-long promised ice cream cone. Before dinner. Mistake? Maybe. Maybe not. I turned it into a learning moment. We went out to dinner later that evening. Because of the cone and some popcorn he got as a snack from school, he wasn’t really hungry by the time we got to the restaurant. Surprise surprise. When I asked him what he wanted for dinner he told me nothing. Careful what you ask for my little one. So that’s what I ordered him. Nothing. Bdawg was a little disgruntled by this. I reminded him that Buzzsaw said he wanted nothing and that if he changed his mind, he could eat off of my plate (there is always way too much food on the plate). When our food arrived Buzzsaw was upset and kept asking where his food was; and I reminded him, more than 3 times, that he told me he wanted nothing. The whining started about now. I told him he could have some of my food. He didn’t like that, he wanted his own plate. We had an extra plate on the table and I explained how that could be his plate and I would put some of my food on it. More whining. More reminding of what he said AND a warning that if I had to take him outside and NOT eat MY dinner, he was in serious trouble. Whining tones down at this point and we eat. I give him some cut up pieces of my Carne Asada and a tortilla, he complains that it’s too hot. I continue eating. He decides he wants the half of tomato slice on my plate (I contain my amazement because usually he looks at a tomato slice like it’s snot and wants nothing to do with it). He makes a tomato taco and eats it. Okay, whatever, you ate something, cool. I wait. He’s busy with his Nintendo DS and I sneak a fork of rice into his mouth, he makes a face but eats it. I wait. Then I sneak in a bite of steak. Next thing I know, all of the steak pieces are gone. Score for mommy.
When we get home he wants his package of fruit gummies he got at school. Battle picking time and MOMMY is winning this round. I explain/remind him of the lack of dinner that he had. He pouts and wines, and plops the packet of gummie fruits on the table and starts to walk away. Mommy’s not done. I get him back in the kitchen and offer him a decision. He can have the gummie fruit IF he eats some veggies first. He sighs and gives me one of those resolved (?) “okays”. We open up the freezer and I see the peas and corn bag and suggest that. He agrees. And he wants some green beans mixed in. No problem. THEN he wants to mix in some lima beans!!! Um, yes.
My son’s dinner was one bite of rice, five pieces of carne asada, a tortilla and tomato taco, and a LARGE bowl of green veggies. Followed by fruit gummies. Of course.
You’ve just been “mommied”!!!!
How ya like them apples veggies???
I changed my mind. It’s not a draw. I won.