Monday, February 13, 2012

Let them matter

Yesterday, we had our annual Valentine's party.

This isn't an extravagant affair. Just us, some construction paper decorations, and a heart shaped pizza. I love this moment with my boys. Just the excitement on their faces that comes from the expectation and the planning and the pure joy of that still baby-like happiness.
And the real truth is, I love our little party because I feel like an awesome mom. I love being responsible for the thrill. I love how decorating cookies and making a mess with a million cut-out hearts helps me focus on creating joy within them. I have so many sweet memories of how my mom did things for us, and I want those memories for the boys.

So we are sitting around the table, and I am gloating in all my parenting perfection. I am loving the way they are thrilled with the hearts tapped to their chairs and the pink paper cups and asking for second helpings of strawberries and not Doritos. And I love how they are genuinely appreciative of all my effort. Thye notice the details; I can see them storing the memory.

Then Bodhi,"Is there something you guys are forgetting to say to me? Is there something anyone would like to tell me?"

Uh. Happy Valentine's Day. I love you. "I don't know, Bodhi, what are you looking for."

"Thank you for picking out the Sprite Zero that everyone is enjoying for the Valentine's Party."

And there you have it. His desperation to be noticed. His real desire to be appreciated.

I had given him some responsibilities at the grocery store, some choices to make for the party. And when it came time to pick the drink, he agonized. Should he go with pink lemonade or fruit punch because those are Valentine's colors? The opportunity to pick a soft drink in our house is rare though so he so carefully weighing root beer and Sprite also. And I remembering thinking, "Really, kid?" when he picked the Sprite Zero. What kid, when allowed to pick any drink chooses a calorie free option. Bodhi.

But back at the table with him, I am saying thank you. And even though I am laughing a little, because really, he just told me to mind my manners, I am floored with how important it is to make him (and his brother) feel like he matters. Because I realize that if I don't make sure that he knows it now - knows that he matters to me, knows that he is an important part of his family, a contributor - then when he is older, and trying to find his own self worth, he will look elsewhere.

Parenting 101 - make them matter.

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