He waits until he gets to the counter at Starbucks to look at the menu. The twenty people in line behind him groan in unison.
She leaves her cart in the center aisle while grocery shopping. Everyone must maneuver their grocery laden carts around it like a produce glacier.
I fear these people daily. I have a reservoir of bottled up rage from years –decades even– of meeting up with these people as I go through the mundane but necessary tasks of life. I come home to my 700 sq. ft. slice of the pie, downtrodden and beat up by the idiocy of it all. I slump down onto my couch.
“Hi Mom!” Justin, my six-year-old son, launches the greeting over his shoulder as he flies around the room. I watch my little boy. So happy and carefree. He’s uninhibited and completely –and do mean totally– oblivious to the fact that he dropped a huge glob of peanut butter on the floor during lunchtime and is now smearing it all over the floor while in the midst of his most recent Spider-Man induced psychotic break (he’s shooting non-existent webs out of his wrists. imaginative play or psychosis? You decide.) I groan and the thought flutters in on the wings of worry. Oh my God. Am I raising one of those adults?
I worry about my son constantly. Is he happy? Is he healthy? Does he know he’s loved? Does he know that, seriously, Starbucks lines are long and you can optimize your wait time by browsing the menu and deciding on a selection before you get to the counter so you don’t hold up the line? These are just a few of many worries that burrow into my motherhood for residence.
Nature vs nurture always rears its ugly head eventually. I wonder if I have any control at all in determining who he becomes or does he have a biological disposition to being Starbucks dude? Of course, it’s a combination of countless factors such as culture, socio-economic status, heredity, and so on and so forth. In a nutshell, it’s pretty much unpredictable. But let’s not let that stop us from worrying, huh? Yea!
I was surprised they allowed me to take my son out of the hospital after his birth. A short stint of two days after an emergency cesarean and BAM! I’m driving through the streets of Brooklyn with a hostage. No formal training necessary. No pop quiz before the discharge papers are signed. My god, they even let me call him whatever the heck I wanted. This seemed irresponsible on their part and thus my worrying began.
I worried about diapers, onesies, new teeth, old teeth (a fairy does what exactly?), kindergarten, high school, college, and careers before my precious little boy even made his first tar-like poop. He was the most beautiful thing and I didn’t want to screw him up. Could I screw him up? Could I make him a lifelong Venti-Mocha-Frap-with-skim-blocker?
As most wisdom does, my first nugget of knowledge on parenting came from my mother. She watched me patiently from the kitchen table as I tried to get my son to eat his first spoonful of solid food. As soon as I’d get that little rubber spoon lined up for the landing he’d purse his tiny lips shut and turn his head away. I’d read books and articles and more books that said he should be eating solid food by now. I dropped the spoon into the bowl and along with it went my last resolve. I dissolved into a frustrated teary mess on my mother’s couch.
“He’s NEVER going to eat!” I always had a flair for the dramatic.
My mom calmly shook her head.
“No, that’s not true. He’ll eat when HE wants to eat. Just give him what you have until then.” She was referring to the bottle of formula but her words went past that bottle and hit something deeper inside me. I could actually hear the ding and see the light bulb illuminate in my head.
My son was his own person. Even at six months old.
His natural disposition told him he wasn’t ready for the food and that was okay. As his mother I felt I knew what was best for him and that was okay too. So, should I force the solid food issue until his little tummy rumbled? No. I had to give him what I had. What he would accept. I had to nurture him with the tools that best suited him.
I may know what’s best for him and I will always worry when he takes an alternate route but I rest assured that he knows what’s right for him. He’s teaching me this constantly. A few days after the solid food debacle of ’07 he ate his first spoonful of solid food and he’s been a proud picky eater ever since.
So, if a baby could help teach me such a fundamental lesson, maybe–just perhaps–Starbucks dude and produce glacier lady are here to teach me things as well. Like patience and sharp maneuvering techniques. Maybe they skipped the lesson on proper coffee line etiquette but took second helpings on taking as much time (and blocking as many paths) as you need to make the right decision. If that’s the case, then I’ll be happy to raise that kind of adult.
(Justin with his go-to snack)