Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Few of His Favorite Things

As we approach my son's third birthday next week, I've been asked by several relatives for ideas to help them navigate the overwhelming ocean of toys made for 3-yr old boys! So, last night I employed the assistance of my husband to make a "Top Ten" list of his wishes.

At first, we were a little self-serving (new sheets for his bedroom would be helpful for mommy; a tennis racquet would be fun for daddy; size 9 shoes for a pair of feet that won't stop growing, etc.). Then, we moved along to "cool" toys, like the stuff we never got when we were kids (pretty much any kind of motorized vehicle). Eventually, we really got down to the nitty-gritty of our son's absolutely favorite things. So, here it is...

Drew's Top Ten List of Birthday Wishes:
10. Box of frozen waffles
9. Gum
8. Cherry Birthday Cake (we don't know why Cherry or if he's ever seen or tasted this flavor before...but he's pretty set on it)
7. Max & Ruby DVD (only one, please, so he can watch it over and over and over and over and...)
6. Root Beer
5. Tennis Balls
4. Bouncy Balls (the kind you get from the gumball machine at the mall)
3. Bandaids
2. Doughnuts
1. A scooter

So, for about $12 (excluding the scooter), all our son's 3-yr old wishes can come true. What a great place to be in life!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Testing His Wings

There comes a time in a little boy's life when he needs to separate himself from his mom and start looking toward his daddy for clues as to how he (as a man)should relate to the world around him. In a recent seminar that I attended (Topic: Raising Boys to Become Courageous Men), the speaker suggested that moms may be able to handle this stage better if they understand that his desire to separate himself a little from his mom (and the discomfort this stage may bring) begins a young man's long journey toward leaving the nest.

Well, we are ten days away from Drew's 3rd birthday, and let me tell little birdy has decided to test his wings a little this week. It began on Wednesday morning. I woke early and was dressed and ready for the day. I coaxed my son out of bed with a big hug and loving words. He responded with the following, "Mommy...not those shoes. I don't like those shoes." O.K. I didn't really care about the shoes I'd picked either. So, without much thought about it, I let him help me pick out a new pair of shoes, and we were off for the day.

The next night, Drew was frustrated about the soap that had accidentally run into his eyes during shower time. Although almost an hour had past, he had not easily bounced back to his normally good-natured self by bedtime. As we lay there quietly, in that usually-precious time right before sleep comes, he whispered, "I don't like you."
Ouch! That hurt a little more than the comment about my shoes. I took the opportunity to talk to him about what it means to hurt someone's feelings with unkind words. He was thoughtful for a moment, then quickly fell asleep.

The following day, when I arrived to pick Drew up from an afternoon at Grandma's house, I was greeted by a quick smile, then a total turnaround. He screamed, ran into a room, slammed the door shut, threw himself on the floor and began to cry that he didn't want to go home. Sigh... Another conversation about appropriate behavior and the danger of slamming doors followed by a time-out, and we were headed home.

Tonight, we were driving in the car, and Drew was in need of a nap. He tried his "insult" from several nights before again. "Mommy. I don't like you." He said it quietly, as if he understood the power of the words and was wary of the consequences. I reminded him of our conversation about unkind words and hurt feelings. All was quiet for several minutes in the car. Then, "I want to hurt your feelings," he murmured from his carseat. To be honest, I don't know which one of us hated hearing the words more. He almost cringed as he said them, as if he was confused and frustrated by his own feelings of rejection toward his momma.

On my good days, I promise myself that I won't take these times personally; that instead I'll use them as an opportunity to teach my child kindness, respect, and to give him tools to help him deal appropriately with his feelings of resentment, frustration and rebellion. But in the reflective moments, I fast-forward our lives about 15 years and can only imagine what it's going to be like when my baby leaves the nest for good. I can only suppose how difficult it will be for both of us to remain loving, respectful of eachother's needs and still accomplish a healthy separation - a celebratory launching of a responsible young man into this world.

So for now, I'll be brave; I'll diligently use this time to help him grow. I'll pray that my son will grow up to be a courageous man. A strong, Godly man, able to lead his own family someday. And I'll let him test his wings...'cause he's going to need strong ones!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What's Cool to a Boy?

Whew! We are back from our Spring Break Adventure to Alabama! Unfortunately for my son, he came down with a yucky virus the night before we left on our trip and spent most of the week fighting off sinus pain, fever, coughing, and various additional ailments. By the last day of our trip, I was finally able to get him a doctor's appointment at my in-laws' local clinic.

As we waited to see the doctor, the clinic's staff proceeded with various tests on Drew. In order to see if he had the flu, they decided to draw some blood. I don't believe that my son has ever had blood drawn before. He's been relatively healthy, so we've avoided all but the routine shots, etc. I was a little anxious to hear that they would be taking his blood (and a little curious as to how they'd do it for a three-year-old).

Our first nurse explained that Drew's finger would be pricked and they would get what they needed from that source. "O.K." I thought. "Doesn't sound too bad to me, but wait until we have to break the news to him."

A second nurse called us into a small room with syringes, vials and cotton balls. My hands were a little sweaty, as I do not necessarily enjoy needles, but I was being brave so that Drew would take my cue. The nurse sat down on her rolling stool and scooted herself right up to us. In her soothing southern drawl, she said, "My, my what a handsome boy!"

"Good," I thought. "Butter him up - make him feel really brave." She proceeded by asking my son's name, how old he was, if he'd like a Diego sticker (Of Course!), etc. After the basics were covered between them, she looked at my child with a bit of mischief dancing in her eyes and said, "Wanna know what I'm about to do?" Drew nodded, his already-large eyes widening a little more. "I'm going to prick your finger, and then your finger is going to bleed! I'm going to get lots and lots of blood out of your little finger... It's going to be SO COOL!"

Well, I was shaking my head in disappointment. How in the world could she think that this would make my son feel better about his situation?? That sounded awful, very scary AND painful! I sat silently, though, as she reached for Drew's right hand.

To my absolute astonishment, my little guy never took his eyes off of the nurse as she poked his finger and squeezed out a giant drop of blood. He never flinched, twitched, whimpered, or cried. Again and again, she squeezed his little finger, gathering the amount she would need in order to run the tests. At one point, Drew even looked back and me and gave me a little smile before he turned his attention back to the show. "Holy Cow - He thinks this is cool!" I was stunned.

The nurse must have noticed my confounded expression. She offered a short and sweet explanation, "I have four boys."

I was once again reminded how little I really understand the mind, the innate nature of boys. I'm so grateful for those who've forged this path before with their sons and can shed some light on what makes my little guy tick. So, thanks to the sweet nurse in Anniston, AL, who knew that blood and Diego stickers are "Cool!" It sure made our doctor's visit a little smoother.