Margaret Mead once said, “children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” I am still learning this… but today proved to me that without even trying I am doing a bit of that. It was a proud day to be my child’s mother.
Today is a milestone for my family. My lil guy turned five today. I woke up and immediately thought, “Holy crap, I have a five year old! Where has the time gone?!” I felt happy, sad, excited and old all at the same time. He was so proud of being a five year old, yet reminded me he will “always be my baby,” and it turned off any sad feelings I had felt.
My husband and I showed up after lunch to pass out treats and a small favour to all of the preschool classes at his school, about 50 children in total. Please note, this is Beverly Hills, people do way too much for their children especially on their birthdays. This celebration was hardly anything compared to what I have seen. We do have small birthday party planned as well, but it’s typical at my son’s school to have a school party and a huge outside of school party.
We arrived at his school and he was ecstatic. I don’t know if I have ever seen him so excited at school. The combination of his dad being there (a very rare treat), being the star of the day (which he normally does not want), treats and having kids like him for the day. He is well liked as it is, but I can tell he always hopes to sway any children on the fence about himself. The screams of giddy joy he made as we entered made me forget how tired I was. They sang, ate treats and played on the playground after. It was just one of those moments that made me so happy to see him happy that I would have paid much more if that’s what it would have taken.
To top the day off, he finally got to have his favourite dude over to our house for the first time. He has had play dates with him previously but never at our house. As they played with his new X-Wing Fighter Legos, lightsabers (which I’m just NOW learning the price of, and my sneaky husband bought TWO!), and miscellaneous “boy” toys, I was listening on the intercom just smiling.
After a couple hours I asked if they were hungry. His friend acted famished and my son is always ready to eat. I asked if they wanted fruit, broccoli or pretzels. The friend was not into those options and asked if he could look for something in our cabinet. He decided on plain penne pasta, so I decided to make it. I asked my son if he wanted pasta, he said no. He ate some pretzels and asked his friend if he wanted some salad. The friend replied, “yuck, no way.” My son returned with, “oh well, I do! Mama can I have salad?” I smiled and responded, “of course my love.”
As I cooked pasta and shredded spinach, I heard them discussing food. My son talked about how he used to really love El Pollo Loco, but does not want to eat junk food anymore. They discussed problems with too much sugar; his friend stated it causes cavities and my son mentioned diabetes. It was like listening to tiny adults and I loved being able to eavesdrop. I could not believe this was from the mouths of babes: five year olds!
Immediately I thought of how much of what we talk to our children about is absorbed. It was a very proud moment for me as a parent. Watching my son choose a spinach salad, even though his favourite dude thought it was gross. He was not worried at that moment if his friend would like him or not with that decision. Listening to them speak about good food choices and preferring to stay healthy made me proud of what both my family and his friend’s family are doing for our kids. Maybe this was a turning point.
These past few years have been rough, brutal at times. This past year has been one of the hardest. My child is on the Autism Spectrum, although high functioning. It seemed that we have been traveling backward to the terrible twos. His personality was getting less and less like the child I knew and I have been worried.
Today, his fifth birthday, was a glimpse into the fact that even though he can act like he is a lot younger than he is, he has quite an adult thought process going on. It’s like when he started to speak again, (he lost all speech at fourteen months) and immediate was able to count to twenty. Little did I know he was in fact taking in all of the information I had no idea he was picking up.
This in turn reminds me that I need to choose my words, thoughts and actions wisely. I knew this, but it is one of those things I have tended to forget from time to time. Our children listen, hear and learn from us even when we don’t realise it. Luckily these instances were positive models, but there are countless moments each day when I have lost my cool and he could be picking that up as well. He might have been more difficult this year and more childish because I might have been modelling that behaviour. Who knows…. But this year I hope to try and get through this road a little smoother by teaching him the correct way to act by example, rather than simply correcting him.