My son mowed the lawn after being asked one, single time. I did not have to cajole, bribe, beg or threaten. This is a new development. It felt like a parallel universe, one in which my kids comply with my directions without complaint, negotiation or irritation. They just do what I say. It’s a nice place to be, if only for a brief visit.
I will not be getting ahead of myself here. Perhaps an anomalous shift in cosmic forces caused a once-in-a-lifetime alignment resulting in my son’s compliance. If so, I will still take it. After asking/telling him in the morning of my expectation that he mow the lawn, I left it alone. I was hopeful, but realistic. In the late afternoon, I heard the unusual sound of a chore being done. The mower sang outside of our living room window and I was pleased.
In this life, I have learned to care the right amount. Not too much, but not too little. I have achieved a balance in my expectations. I do this as protection for both myself and these people I love. A crazy and angry person I would be without this perspective. I don’t want to be either.
Nonetheless, some crazy and a little angry is not always bad. I can become very clear when I need to. I don’t want to simply make noise. My minions understand when I am serious and they usually respond appropriately. Knowing when to wield my sword is the trick. I will flash it with a raise of my eyebrows. I will measure my words with a heavy sigh expressing what is not said. My kids don’t want me mad. They seem to enjoy me slightly aggravated, but mad is no fun for anyone. I enjoy and use their fear as a wonderful tool to get some action from them.
The evolution of parenting is a slippery road. My kids change and I don’t. Sometimes I don’t recognize that they have changed and my communication lacks with this new person. They are constantly becoming new. They learn new things and think in different ways as they get older. I struggle to keep up despite their reminders and “encouragement.” I think I will always be a little behind. And this I don’t mind.
I want to linger in their youth. Their changes unnerve me and make me uncertain and nostalgic. I want them to stay little just a bit longer than they are willing to. I can’t keep up, because I don’t really want to. I enjoy living in the false dream of suspended time where they will always need me to care for them: a special time where my advice is welcome and a piggy-back ride is fun and not creepy.
Well, those days are gone and new days are here. As I try to catch up while clinging to the monkey bars wanting to stay back, my grip will fail. My kids will force me, through some yelling and tears, to move with them, which, as I ponder these things, is really where I want to be anyway…
[EDITOR'S NOTE:"Feel Good Friday" is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who just published his first book called "A Feel Good Life" (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: "Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!" Also, you can "friend" Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]