Atticus, today 20 months old, is in this ridiculous whiney phase. I don’t know what’s up, but I don’t like it. He’s the sweetest boy I know when he isn’t being sent to his room for throwing a tantrum (and Daniel says he’s an angel when I’m not around). Fun or Room: that’s his choice. I say, “If you want to be with me, you must be fun. Feel free to come out of your room when you can be fun.” He doesn’t like being put in his room, but he usually comes out pretty quickly saying, “Hap-py?”
Taking him to his room is quite a feat, now, too. He’s discovered how to do the limp body thing. Remember that one? Someone tries to physically move you and your response is to slack all your muscles and go completely dead-weight?
When we were little Bird and I would do that and make Jessica try to drag us around. The thing about Jessica is she’s got to be as strong as any farm animal around, and it was so fun to listen to her grunt and pull at us. I’d just start giggling, which would make her giggle, which would make the whole thing that much funnier and even more difficult. Another thing about Jessica is that she never, ever gives up. So, we were one big, giggly, dead-weight, dragging bunch of limbs, heads lolling and pants starting to sag.
Another game we used to play–for hours–was a simple game of Push. Bridget and Jessica always shared a room (I’m assuming it was because my parents saw my very special need for alone time and personal space), and their beds were always bunked, so we had to play Push in my room. My 9 foot by 10 foot bedroom was set up with the doorway in one corner and my bed usually in the opposite corner. The game had no real rules other than we’d stand in the doorway and let Jessica give us one big shove. She’d plant her feet firmly, quickly shift her weight into her front leg, and PUSH! We’d take a step or two and go flying onto my bed. I know, doesn’t sound like a trip to Disney, right? But, I’m telling you, that girl is strong!
Anyway, I think about this passing time. I think about my boy and all the joy and pain he will bring to our home. Already I’m worrying about the things he and Grey will do to each other, the ways they could grow apart, the ways they could destroy each other. The ways they could destroy my house (like the other day when they were outside throwing rocks–strictly against family rules–and managed to throw one straight through the basement window, splitting the darn thing). I worry about the whole “boys will be boys” thing, which, I sort of believe, besides being sexist, is mostly a bull-shit justification for not teaching self-control and excusing violent behavior (I take no issue with the natural wildness of children; I take issue with the complete inability to be relatively calm). I worry about how much all his ER visits will cost us because with the way he so easily bleeds from the head I’m sure we’ll be regulars there in just a few years.
Along with learning that these small people cannot be controlled (and that ultimately, I don’t want them to be), I’m learning to close off my heart to these worries. I do not want to parent out of my fear of their failure or even my own failures. I do not want to keep Atticus from all that life has for him because I cannot trust in the goodness in the world. I close my heart to the anxieties of raising a boy into a man because I know his father, although raised by fear, is a good man, the sort of man I hope my son will become.