As Dante gets a little older he lets us know when he notices things. And even a little bit more about when he remembers something. I was particularly effected by two recent conversations.
With Gabriel being totally through with his baby toys, we recently cleaned out our toy corner and removed things no one had touched in months and things we thought the boys were done with. This included all the stuffed animals we own – save “Bunny” Gabriel’s beloved stuffed dog. We have received so many stuffed animals as gifts and thought that the boys really hadn’t taken to them. Until Dante pulled this pink Sock Monkey from our give away bag.
He looked at me and held it up and said, “We were at Miss Veronica’s house. We had a party.” It wasn’t much to go on, but indeed this was true. The pink Sock Monkey was a gift from one of Dante’s daycare friends on Valentine’s Day. They had a party and made ceramic hand print hearts. Dante hasn’t talked about the history of any other toy so this particularly stood out. He carried it around the rest of the day. And while he hadn’t touched it for months, clearly there was some attachment to this toy. Of course we kept it – and all the other stuffed animals, just in case. (No others have sparked such conversation.)
The other conversation was a little more muddled. Yesterday, we were running errands at a large strip mall. Of course we wanted to go to a store at one end and one at the other. On my own I would have enjoyed the chance to walk in the sun. With a three year old, that long walk was just on big request for a meltdown. So we drove across the parking lot. After finishing the errands – with no meltdowns! – Dante buckled up and settled into his car seat. At this point he started saying, “That one, Mommy! That one for you.” He was pointing but I had no idea what he was talking about. I guessed all kinds of things incorrectly – roll the window down? Look at the cart we were just using? Mommy sits in the driver’s seat? I continued to get ready to drive as we sat there and finally got to putting on my seat belt. Dante says, “Yes, that one for you now.” Wow. Guess what poor role model mother failed to buckle up crossing the parking lot? I was so surprised that he had noticed and more surprised that he was concerned. Not about my wearing a seat belt, per se, but that I had changed up the usual pattern. Still, he was watching.
Dante’s ability to notice and now recall things amazes me – and every day I am reminded just how carefully Nathan and I need to be in our actions, words, tone. I am reminded that Dante is growing into a person with distinct individual ideas. Very distinct. Very individual. I am reminded also how many habits and beliefs we hold simply because they are what we were shown and what we grew up with. So many days you sail through the tasks at hand without thinking – or just trying to make it (see last week’s post on finding the capacity to do those tasks).
This is why “granola” habits and healthy, fulfilling living – truly being the best person you can be – are so important as you parent.
When I was 18, my mother started swearing. There was nothing that started with an F, nothing to embarrass a sailor, but a noticeable shift nonetheless. I asked her about this and her reply is something I come back to again and again. She told me, “Well, you are 18 now. The habits you have, you have. [I can let it all hang out].” Yes, that last sentence is paraphrased all these years later. There is something there about habits, sure. There was more to me there about the amazing willpower my mother displayed to not routinely curse – to work that hard, that consistently to be the best role model she could be in that and so many other things. I don’t have that sort of will power for cursing – I am not sure I have it for anything that I can carry over 20 years. This is why I try to build good habits – some days I think it is all I have to rely on.
That, and Dante calling me out…