By: Martianne Stanger
Blue skies with wisps of white clouds and warms breezes carrying the happy chatter of birds beckoned us outside. We picnicked in the yard. Then, the kids played while I did some much needed yard clean up. The day was perfection.
Until…a squeal. A cry. A mini-eruption. Child tormenting child.
As I had deposited some leaves and branches that I’d swept from a small garden bed, my son had taken it upon himself to use a rock from the edge of said garden to crush my daughter’s sidewalk chalk into a fine powder. He, then, proceeded to “paint” my ten-month-old’s clothes and hair with the powder, and, when his sister told him to stop, he pulled her hair. All this happened in but a few minutes.
The fall out lasted longer.
Melt downs ensued – by both the victims and the assailant. Voices rose to unpleasant decibels. Frustration overtook me.
What had happened to the peaceful picture I had smiled at when walking over to the woods’edge with yard debris: my son playing with figurines on a blanket; his sister drawing with chalk; my ten month old mouthing a toy; all blissfully enjoying an ideal spring day? Nothing more than childhood antics, I suppose, compounded by Mommy stepping away for a minute.
Isn’t it always that step away – to do a small chore, to answer a phone call, to go to the bathroom – that triggers kiddo-madness? It’s as if the kids have an alert button hard-wired into them that says, “Mommy is otherwise occupied. She is not present to avert a situation before it unfolds. Time to stir things up.”
Or, in the case of my family’s spring afternoon, maybe the fault was not the button in all kids, but the unique wiring of my own son’s mind and my failure to take it into consideration. Looking back, I realize that I let the afternoon unfold at leisure without consciously tending to my son’s sensory diet needs.
Whatever the reason for that afternoon’s less than idyllic interruption, it was what it was. And, what it was was very minor…and just another part of parenting.
It’s done. It’s over with. No one’s the worse for it.
When the mad moment ended, the skies continued to be clear. Birds continued to sing. The children were redirected and reengaged – content.
I was content, too.
Yes, content having to stay at literal arm’s reach.
No the garden could not continue to be tended. In fact, it still needs tending.
That’s okay. My children need me more.