All My Byself

Oct 12 2009

For three more days, I have two two-year-olds.

Watching kids grow up is bittersweet.  I’ve never been the parent who mourns the stages that are past; I more champion the present and look forward to the future.

I think I realize that, as much as I’d love to have one more chance to cradle my 11-year-old as an infant, I also don’t miss the lack of sleep.  And I really enjoy that she can use her words now, even if I don’t always enjoy the words she uses.

Having twins when my eldest, Abby, was 8 years old, though, has given me a different perspective on time.  When she was little, I remember my mom and my mother-in-law both telling me how quickly the years fly by.  In my head, I knew they were right.  But in my heart, after months filled with no sleep and Disney movies and spaghetti-o’s, I wasn’t sure.  Time could drag.

By the time the twins were born, I’d learned a different heart lesson.  The days are often slow, but the years are a blink and over in an instant.  I’ve learned, I hope, to savor the best moments and to be more relaxed about the hard ones.

Even though I’m not much of a mourner for time gone by, I do try to take a little time to reflect.

Reflecting on the past year of age two (times two), I realized we’ve had a lot of “me do it” moments.  When kids push hard for more independence, we end up with a lot of spills, a lot of owies, a lot of learning from mistakes, a lot of triumphs, a lot of tenderness, a lot of laughs, and a lot of fun.

Cael, in particular, insists on doing everything “All My Byself.”  It’s a phrase the rest of the family has adopted whenever we don’t need help or if we want to just be left alone for a while.

Sometimes, I think it’s not fair that I’m a grown-up and, therefore, required to use my nice, grown-up words.  Sometimes, I want to do things all my byself, too.  I want to shout it at the top of my lungs whenever I perceive someone encroaching on my space and my stuff.

  • I want to make juice without a minimum of 3 kids stirring it with grubby hands ’til it’s all over the floor.  ALL MY BYSELF!
  • I want to go potty without an audience.  ALL MY BYSELF!
  • I want to sleep at night in a bed not littered with kid-made crumbs ALL MY BYSELF!

I think, though, that occasionally,

rarely,

every once in a while,

with age comes wisdom.

Because I know that if I start to ask to be all my byself, eventually I might be all my byself.  And… shhhh, don’t tell the kids… I don’t think that’s what I really want.

I had a dear friend, Gloria, who was laugh-out-loud funny, always creative, and incredibly loyal.  When she died unexpectedly, a group of her friends painted WWGD mugs in her memory.  Mine is next to me as I type.  What would Gloria do?

Gloria was impulsive and friendly and compassionate and stubborn.  My seven-year-old, Gloria Aden, is named for her.  Go figure.

One of my favorite Gloria memories was watching her organize an impromptu game for high school kids at camp one year.  It was a game of chair frisbee.

Chair frisbee was just like regular frisbee, except you had to stand on, and weren’t allowed to leave, your chair.  If you’ve ever played real frisbee, you know that it’s pretty much impossible to play it from a stationary position.

So, when the frisbee was inevitably over- or under-thrown, the players had to figure out what to do.  They started asking passersby for “a little help, please.”  “Um, a little help?”

Pretty soon, non-players would pick up the frisbee and hand it back.  Sometimes, they would grab a chair and start playing, too.  Either way, the frisbee was back in play.

It was hilarious to watch, this silly non-game with lame rules.  And it was an incredibly beautiful example, too, of building community.  People were included and embraced… and needed.

We eventually named the game “A Little Help, Please.”

I love learning things from my kids and from my friends.

The “All My Byself” stage is important.  Being self-sufficient builds confidence.  It’s good and right to struggle with something, and it’s gratifying when we figure things out after our determination and work-ethic saw us through.

I want my kids to learn to do things All My Byself.

I also want them to learn when to throw in the towel and ask for a little help.  Sometimes, we all have to have permission to stand on the chair and say, feebly at first, “A little help, please?”  And then more confidently, “Really, folks, I need some help.”

So, standing on the precipice and looking at my boys turning three… and then Ian turning ten… and Aden turning eight… and Abby, well, being a middle schooler, I say,

Bring it.

You know why?

Because I’m ready.  I’m confident.  I know I have this in the bag.

All my byself.

And with a little help, please.