Tuesday after dinner I had to go out to our local Mejier (much like Wal-Mart in the whole department store thing, but unlike Wal-Mart in the whole skeeze thing) for some supplies for a baby shower I am giving this weekend.
As Cort cleaned up dinner, Eddie announced he wanted to come with me.
Cort told him, “That’s up to mommy. ”
Normally, I would say, “no. it’s too close to bed time. I won’t be gone long and you’ll have fun with daddy and Charlie.”
But since it was only just after 6pm, I said, “finish your dinner and you can come with me. But only if you can be a good helper. Can you be a good helper?”
“Yeah, Mom! I can! Let me go wash my hands and face!”
So off we went.
For anyone who has been around for awhile, you know I have a generalized anxiety disorder along with PPD/PPA. After Eddie was born I was paralyzed with fear to go out with him alone. Not because I thought he would get hurt, but because I was afraid I couldn’t handle it.
It was easy to avoid going out alone with Eddie. When he was 4 months old, Cort lost his job and became a stay at home dad for a year and a half. He did most of the errands during the day and had no problem taking Eddie with him. In fact, he planned it so they would get out of the house at least once a day.
If I went out for anything, it was to pick something up on my way home from work. Alone.
When I had Charlie, I had over a year of therapy to work on my anxiety and I had discovered baby-wearing. Charlie and I got out about once a week to do all sorts of things.
It was still rare that I took Eddie out alone though. Not because I was anxious, but because we didn’t have tons of alone time.
So Tuesday night when he wanted to come along, I figured it would be good for both of us.
When we got to Meijer, Eddie insisted on holding my list. As we held hands through the parking lot, he peered down at it and said, “yet’s see…hmmm. what is first?”
I almost melted right there.
Once we were safely inside, I crouched down and asked if we could look at it together. I pointed to the first thing and I said, “this says we need eggs and strawberry soda.”
“Hmmm,” he replied. “yup, mom. You’re right! It says it riiiiight here.”
(I should remind readers that Eddie is 3 and cannot read, but we “pretend” to read often as a form of “play learning”.)
So I let him help me pick a cart and off we went.
I let him run a bit ahead of me and didn’t get panicky or yell to him to slow down or wait. I trusted that he would. And he did.
He would get a certain length ahead of me and then stop, turn around, and wait for me with a smile on his face.
I let him choose which package of sausage we would buy. And then I let him “fix” the rest in the display so they were nice and neat.
He put strawberries in the cart and helped me pick the “right” paper plates.
It took longer than if I had zipped through the store on my own, but it was so SO much better this way.
A few people commented on how it was nice that we worked together to do the shopping instead of my just having him be there. Each time we found something on the list, I would get down on my knees in the aisle so we could look at the next list item together. He held the list the whole time.
At checkout, I let him unload the entire cart (except the eggs). The belt was not as neat and organized as when I unload (I have a method of what gets grouped together for bagging purposes), but he did it all on his own. Luckily for us, the cashier smiled and talked to him and told him what an awesome helper he was. She said it was nice to see someone using a trip to Meijer as a “learning” tool instead of a battle between mother and child.
On our way out, he wanted to ride the penny pony, but I didn’t have a penny. I felt sad for him as I watched him hang his head in disappointment because he had been such a great helper and he deserved a spin on the pony. Just as I was telling him that I promised I would bring TWO pennies next time, a lady in the check out next to us bent down and handed Eddie a penny.
“OH THANKS YOU!” he beamed at her.
“You are very welcome, young man. I saw you help your mommy. You are quite the gentleman!”
“You too,” Eddie replied.
To which we both chuckled while I thanked her.
As we approached the pony, we saw that someone had left three pennies next to it. Eddie asked if he could use one to take a second ride, and I let him.
When we were done, he asked about the other two pennies.
“Are those for other girls and boys?”
“Yup, someone left those there for good boys and girls so they can ride the pony too.”
“If they don’t have pennies they can use them?”
Just then a little boy, smaller than Eddie, walked up.
“You has a penny?” Eddie asked him.
“no. I can’t wide it.” The little boy said, “I just looking.”
Eddie reached down to the extra pennies, and handed one to the little boy.
“Der you go. Now you can ride too!” And he patted the horse.
As the little boy ran back to his mom to show her his new treasure, Eddie and I walked to the car.
“That was very kind of you, Eddie.”
“Yup. Dat boy can ride duh pony now too!”
“That’s right. Thank you for being such a great helper and such a kind boy.”
“I yuv you, mom.”
“Aw. I love you too, Eddie.”
I am beyond stressed out and way overly exhausted. But these small moments…just 30 minutes out of my day on Tuesday, made me smile. It made me forget the deadlines and the calendar conflicts and the have-to-do’s for 30 minutes and just focus on my older son.
I was able to spend quality time with him encouraging his fierce independent streak in a positive, healthy way.
I am an overworked working mom. But I am a good mom.
My son is kind and helpful not because he just knows to be that way, but because we have modeled that for him.
We have taught him to share what he has, even if all he has in that minute is a penny and a helpful nature.
These small moments also remind me that I am not raising boys, but men.
Men who I hope will bring good to this world instead of sadness.
Watching my son share a penny made me hopeful that I am achieving this goal.