My little boy is now able to unlock and open our front door, which means he can now exit the house whenever he wants to, on his own. This morning, he woke up early to go fishing with my dad at a nearby pond. I was startled awake by his little voice saying “Yes! I did it, I woke up early!”
He tells me that he’s going to go look for his Lolo, and sleepy little me reminded him to open their bedroom door slowly because his grandmother might still be sleeping. A few minutes later, he returns, noisy and excited, asking to change from his pajamas to pants and shoes. I figure I can sleep in peace after seeing them off, get up and ask him to turn on the lights.
The little boy then proceeds to tell me how he went in the room, saw his Lola sleeping, then went outside when he saw his Lolo’s car drive up. Of course, I freaked out before he could finish his last sentence. “What? You went out by yourself? Without anyone knowing? You went outside the house?”, or at least that’s what I remember saying it, in my most panicky, 6am squeaky voice.
Of course he becomes defensive and says he didn’t go outside the gate.
I respond by asking again if he exited the house on his own without anyone knowing. He says no.
I’m on to him by now, I know he’s covering up for what he did because I was getting angry. I ask him again, twice, and he gives me a “No”, both times. Eventually he tells me the truth, that yes he had gone out by himself, without telling anyone. So I go off on this long monologue about how it was wrong, and that’s how kids get lost, and did he want to end up lost, and all that. I ended with something like “You’re supposed to be smarter than that, kid.”
By then, he’s looking at me with wide eyes, obviously trying not to cry. He speaks defensively, but I know that he knows he was wrong.
He apologizes, and I tell him to save it for when I’m not angry anymore. I tell him that I’m upset that he lied.
My dad enters our room to pick him up, and I just had to share with him the story of what happened. I even say that I will tell everyone what he did. And the little boy says that he went out because he saw his Lolo’s car drive up. I answer with “What if it wasn’t his car?”
“He parked in the same space he always does.”
But I wouldn’t let it go. “Do you know that most cars are alike? What if it wasn’t his car?”
Looking back now, I think I may have overreacted. I’m thinking this because instead of happily going back to bed, I’m sitting here with both anger and guilt swimming in my system, and it’s not even 7 o’clock yet.
His reasons were so simple, and his reasoning so innocent. He was fueled by excitement. And I had to spoil it for him. But what if something bad happened? Sure, we live in a secure, gated community, but that never stopped loonies before from doing bad things to good people, bad things to good children. Still, I feel bad because it feels as if I stole a little bit of his innocence this morning. He’s growing up so fast and it’s like I’m pushing him towards being a big boy right away, when what I really want is to be able to enjoy my time with him as the innocent kid that he is for as long as I still can.
Now I’m the one who’s trying not to cry. I feel like I failed some test that I wasn’t prepared for.
I should have been up early. Should have gotten up when he got up. Should have packed him an extra snack to go with his thermos of ice water (thankfully, my dad was a step ahead of me, and packed a snack himself). I shouldn’t have freaked out on him. Shouldn’t have ruined his morning.
The thing is, his morning wasn’t actually ruined.
I walked him to the door, and his Lolo was already waiting by the gate. He opens the door on his own, and I say goodbye. He starts to go out, and I say “Excuse me?”
He leans up to give me a kiss, then throws his arms around me and hugs me the way he does when he knows he did something that upset me. I know that hug, I’ve felt it before. This time I think I owe him one too. But earlier today when I walked him out, I was too angry to realize that. I handed him his water and told him to have fun. And off he went, cheerfully chatting with his Lolo about getting worms as bait, leaving all the bad stuff behind, as if none of it had ever been there in the first place.
Funny how the tables turned on me, and now I’m the one feeling guilty about what happened. I don’t think our squabble will even matter to him anymore after his morning fishing trip, and I don’t think I should dwell on it anymore either. He’ll be excited to tell me all about it, and quite frankly, I’m already excited to hear the stories. I still have far to go, and much to learn about being Mom. Luckily, my son is patient with me, and he teaches me without even trying.