Some of the funniest and most wonderful moments of parenting have also been the most humbling. They are the moments that, though I wouldn’t trade them for the world, I might also secretly wish had taken place just in front of me and Justin.
Every parent has these moments: the moments where our child is, simply put, a selfish little tyrannical toddler. Cute as a button? Of course. Cute with all the makings of a future dictator? Yep. That too.
There are so many wonderful-humbling moments of parenting where our children are delightfully real and transparent and, even in their shortcomings, we can't help but rejoice. We know they’ll learn and grow, because they’re being taught. But in the meantime, it seems best to enjoy life as it comes and to, once in a while, blog about it so we don’t forget.
There I am at the Parenting Centre one morning with the pre-schooler, Josh, the toddler, Ella, and the perfect parent, Me. Ella’s vocabulary has grown quite a bit in these past few weeks, and she now regularly says ‘Thank you’ (which sounds a bit more like ‘Dank you’) at all the appropriate times. I’ll pass her something and she’ll say, in that raspy, surprisingly alto voice of hers, “Dank you.” An older brother will share their treat or toy with her and she’ll instinctively offer a polite, “Dank you.” And almost always, if I prompt her and say, “What do you say, Ella?” she’ll respond with a sweet smile and say, “Dank you!”
So there we are at our local Parenting Centre (basically a pre-school program but where parents attend) that we go to several mornings each week, and Ella is standing at the sand table, playing beside another little girl that we’d never before met. I’m sipping my coffee and somewhat keeping an eye on her when she and the toddler beside her get into a little scuffle over one of the sand toys. Both the other mother and I lean in, attempting to mediate. It was unclear which one of them had rightful dibs on the small sand shovel, so when the other girl offered it to Ella, I felt no hesitancy in simply saying to this magnanimous toddler beside us, “Aw. Thank you, sweetheart.”
Of course there was a much more important person who also needed to say thank you too, so, still crouching low beside Ella, I prompted her: “What do you say, Ella?” It was a long, lingering moment. It was almost as if Ella smiled, sweetly, even deceptively, before leaning towards the little girl at her side and screeching into the other girl’s gracious, expectant face, “MINE!”
I gasped. (And I smiled. I couldn’t help it.) “No, no, no! Ella, sweetie, that’s so clearly not what I meant. Thank you! I meant that you should say thank you.”
I glanced at the mother beside me and explained: “She almost always says thank you in situations like this. I don’t know what…” I trailed off and gulped down a sip of coffee. The other mother was gracious, but I could see the glint in her eye betraying her true thoughts. 'She almost always says thank you? Yeah right. Sure she does.'