Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This Isn't About You

Christopher and I walk Nicholas into his school each day as part of our morning routine. I enjoy walking with Nicholas to his Kindergarten classroom and Christopher enjoys feeling like one of the "big kids" as he rushes down the hall with all of the other hurried kids who have places to go, things to do and people to see.

The other morning in our car, Nicholas looked at me and said, "Mom, do you think you could just drop me off at the front door and not come into the school today?" Uh oh. The day I have been dreading. Please, please, please don't say what I think you just said! I'm sure I must have misunderstood the question...

I said, "hmmmnnnn, so....Nicholas, why can't we walk into the school with you today?" He replied, "Well, I just really want to go in by myself. I can do it, mom. I can do it by myself."

Yikes. I am sort-of a liar when I say that I want my kids to be independent. I secretly want them to depend on me at least a little while longer. Just a little while. Is that so bad? Is that so wrong? All these years I have encouraged my kids to learn to be independent and do things by themselves without realizing that the day would come too damn quick when they decide they want to walk into school by themselves. What's next? Asking for my car keys?

I composed myself, took a deep breath and thoughtfully looked at my son trying in vain to invoke his compassion gene. I tried to explain my position. "Nicholas, I know you can walk into school by yourself. I know you can find your room. I know you are capable. I know you are ready. But, this isn't about you. It's about me and my incredibly selfish desire to walk with you into school each and every day because this is the last year that I can. Next year you will ride the bus to 1st grade and I won't be able to walk with you at all anymore. This is 100% totally and blatantly about me holding your hand just a little bit longer." I decided that the direct approach was best; here is my story and I’m sticking to it.

Nicholas being his reflective self, pondered my request for about a millisecond. "Mom, I really want to go in by myself." Well...what else could I say? I stated my case and it was dismissed. I kissed him outside the school door and Christopher and I waved as we watched him walk in unaccompanied. We stared at his backpack that heaved with each step until Nicholas turned the corner and disappeared.

The next time we drove to school, Nicholas did not say a word about going in alone. He was content to walk in with his brother and me, holding hands just as we have done day in and day out for the past several months. He did what he needed to do, accomplished his solo-entrance goal and now was offering to resume the routine that satisfied all parties involved. I hugged Nicholas profusely at the corner by his Kindergarten room and whispered, “thank you, buddy. Have a great day!”

Nicholas might not realize that he did something special that day. He might not realize how important our routine is to me. But, sometimes we just need to do things for people that we might not necessarily want to do. Sometimes we need to appreciate that someone else’s needs outweigh our own. Sometimes we take and sometimes we give. By giving unselfishly we gradually build our reserves so that one day we can withdraw from our karmic bank account without regret.

Nicholas was obviously the giver and I the taker, but I don’t feel any guilt or shame. As a parent, I have made numerous deposits in my karmic bank account to justify this small withdrawal. If Nicholas was even remotely determined to continue his solo entrance I would have relented. But, I believe that Nicholas was also secretly relieved to continue on with our morning ritual.

Not that he would ever say that out loud.


Jo said...

Kim, when he asks for those car keys, you won't believe it. I envy how much time you've been able to spend with your boys. It goes by so fast, and there's nothing we can do to slow it down. Enjoy each day with them.


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