When I was younger, my Dad used to say "Kids are like plants. They are going to grow into what they are going to grow into. The best you can do as a parent, is to just not screw them up too bad. They just need the proper nourishment, and room to grow."
I used to think it was funny when he would say this, and would think here he goes comparing us to plants again. But as time has gone on, and especially now that I am a parent myself, I have to say that I think he may be on to something.
People are like plants. Each with its own unique needs, purpose and beauty.
My Dad didn't always think in these terms. As a new parent, he devoured the parenting books and knew exactly the kind of parent he wanted to be. He and my Mom were going to do everything right. And then they had kids (hahahha). Seven of them (hahahha). I think at first things went smoothly. My oldest brother was memorizing and reciting difficult poetry at the age of two-- was an early reader, talker, and walker, was precocious, and basically a genius (as was my next oldest brother). They were bright and happy and perfect (or so they say). I don't know exactly when they realized that they basically had no idea what they were doing, and that everything they thought they were doing right didn't necessarily apply to all their kids, but I think it was about the time me and my younger brother came along. We were hell on wheels (or so they say).
And by the time another three kids came along, and we started sprouting into teenagers-- well, I think that's probably when they just threw the books out the window, and crossed their fingers that we would somehow get to adulthood in one piece. I think this is about the time when my Dad started comparing us to plants.
I was thinking about the plant analogy this weekend as I watched my kids play. Vaughn spent a huge chunk of his Saturday taking care of some potato bugs that he found in the backyard.
This was just the beginning stages of the "house" that he made for them. I watched as he picked each item for his potato bugs, and smiled as he explained what each of the items was for.
Soft feathers, so that they would have something soft for their legs, a spoon for them to climb on and slide down, a skateboard that they could ride around on, and a marble so they could play ball, a flower so that it would smell good and grass and dirt and leaves to play in, as well as food and water. By the end of the day they had quite an elaborate place to play in.
But at the end of the day I looked outside and their house was empty. I asked Vaughn what happened, and he told me that he let them go back into the grass because they needed more space to move. They were trying to climb out and couldn't, and he was worried that they needed to go back home-- maybe they had families that missed them.
He is such a busy boy-- constantly building, moving forward, dreaming about the future, and making his plans. But he is also so so sweet, and sensitive. Earlier in the week when we went to Red Rocks and he was talking about how he wished we could live there, I explained that Native Americans used to live there. I thought he would be fascinated by the way they lived and that it would spark a discussion about the kinds of food they would eat and the way they would cook, or where they would sleep etc... but instead he kept pressing me about why they didn't live there anymore. He kept pressing me with question after question, and when I told him that we took their land away from them, and that some of them died (he asked me directly if any of the Native Americans got killed, and really it took quite a long time to get to this conclusion, because I kept trying to steer it in another direction), he burst into tears and cried for a solid ten minutes.
At Christmastime when we were dropping Rick off at work (which is right near a homeless shelter), Vaughn kept asking why there were so many people on the sidewalk and streets. When I explained that some people don't have houses, he again was brought to tears. Later we were at the hardware store and saw a tool kit for kids. He was thrilled with it and that's all he could talk about wanting for Christmas. Rick and I went out and got it for him, and when he opened his present excitedly on Christmas morning, he told me "Mom! Now I can build houses for the people who are homeless!" It literally brought me to tears-- my sweet sensitive boy who is filled with love for others.
Sometimes I feel sorry for him because he's the oldest, and I'm making all my mistakes with him. Every time he goes through a new stage, or hits a new milestone, I feel like I am caught off balance-- why exactly is he doing that? Did I do something wrong along the way?
When he hit the age of four, it seemed as if he suddenly broke through the surface (if I'm comparing him to a plant), and was suddenly aware of himself in the world and in comparison to others. It's like he constantly has his arms up "Look at me! Look how big I am! Look what I can do!" There seems to be no end to the attention he wants from us and others, and the comparisons with others (Who is bigger? Who is stronger? Who is faster?). Sometimes I think it might make me crazy, but when I look at these pictures above, and watch him play it reminds me of his caring and creative nature. He is who he is. I just need to sit back and enjoy his growth and development, and love him for who he is, which is not hard to do (most of the time). :-)
And then there is Mason. My sweet, adorable, busy little Mason.
He spent the weekend doing what he usually does-- pretending he's a superhero, and following his big brother and parents around.
I try not to, but I often find myself comparing Mason to Vaughn. By the time Vaughn was Mason's age, he was dressing himself, fully potty trained, and could even get the keys off our key chain, open the garage door, and the car door, get in the car and start it (this actually happened once to our horror).
(Here is a cute video I took of him on Saturday-- sorry it is sideways. It might not be cute to anyone else, but I love his smile, and little voice, and that he has the hiccups,)
Mason seems to have no desire to dress himself, or escape from our house on a constant basis-- and not because he's incompetent-- he is just perfectly content to be close to us and staying within certain boundaries. I keep wondering why he's not fiercely independent like his older brother, and wondering if this is normal. Do I need to worry about him not knowing how to climb to the highest shelves in the pantry and opening every door and cupboard in the house?
I love spending time with him, and talking with him, watching him play, and listening to him sing-- goodness how this boy likes to sing! Whenever we go to the library, the librarians, who know us by name, say "here comes out little singer!"
I love that he's so different from his brother in so many ways-- that I get to watch and wonder about both of them.
And then there is the new baby inside of me. I can feel him kick on a constant basis now. I'm already excited to see what he will be like-- to hold him, to watch him grow, and to be who he is going to be.
Sometimes motherhood can be crazy. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing things right, or am doing a good enough job. But mostly I feel lucky to be a Mom. For these sweet, amazing, beautiful little boys that I get to spend so much time with-- that Rick and I get to witness from the moment of conception, the miraculous unfolding and growth that is uniquely them.