My neighbor came over this morning and ripped me a new one. She and her middle aged roommate were livid that my children filled the air with laughter on a Saturday morning. As soon as I heard the loud pound on the door I knew who'd be on the other side, Lorraine the angry, pot growing hippy from next door. As she literally trembled with rage she barked "This is ridiculous. I'm so tired of this shit. You have no idea how much we have to put up with your noise". She went on along these lines for another minute or so at which time I asked "Are you done?" She gasped indignantly, I said "good bye" and calmly closed the door. I would have engaged in conversation with her if she wasn't so hostile and aggressive. I knew the wiser move, given her demeanor, involved few words and better timing. I've got to confess though, I was pretty irritated and did the oh-so-common "I shoulda said this or that kind of thing". Let's just say I was ruminating on my next move when low and behold, guess who shows up at my house again!
This time she was much calmer and her bark had regressed to more of a lecture. I listened to her for a few minutes and then unleashed my own best monologue. This is what I said, please keep in mind my tone was very gentle all the way through even though my words were very direct. "Please don't come to my house again if you're going to approach me with the kind of disrespect I saw this morning. You should have come to me a long time ago, before you were livid if my kids laughing and playing was so bothersome to you. I honestly didn't realize children's laughter could be so infuriating. You clearly have a low tolerance for noise. If children laughing makes you so mad, then do you hate puppies and rainbows and kitty cats too? Have you noticed that you have conflicts with all the neighbor's? Everyone else seems to get along fine but I heard you and the other neighbor screaming obscenities from over the fence just the other day. It seems like the common problem is you. But that's not the point. My big question is what do you want from us? I'm happy to keep my kids quieter if that's what you need, but I don't know what you consider loud. I don't know the times to keep them quiet. When?" She says, half laughing at herself "Twenty-four seven". "Ok" I say "We both know that's not realistic. How about you tell me (she works from home as a new age astrologer) when you're going to meditate or do your guided imagery and I'll make sure to have the kids in the house for an hour or two. I only ask that you speak to me with respect and well before you're about to rip someones head off". "Ok" she says, "I'll do that". At one point in the conversation she did acknowledge that she should have approached us about the noise before she was livid and that that was something she is working on. I appreciated her humility on that one point and I think my willingness to work with her schedule disarmed her a bit as well. Overall the conversation ended ok. It was definitely a spicy one though! I'm just glad we're moving.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
"Mom, there's a shark at the backdoor! Sharks can't get me right? They're under the table right now!"
"Mom, I have Star Wars on my shirt see?". (Josiah's explanation of the juice stains on his shirt)
Stomping on the carpet, heavy footed and with great authority, "I'm stepping on all the Veggie Tales and crushing their cars".
"Mom, let's jump into the computer, just use some magic!".
My funny little four year old always has a running fairy tale in his mind. Sometimes he's a giant and talks in a low voice about how huge he is, other times he's Iron Man with fierce shooters that launch from his wrist bands. Lately he likes to pretend he's marrying me or his sister and says things like "I'm a good dad", while clutching his sisters baby doll. Other times, his imagination overwhelms him. Yesterday as Josiah played with a friend he was overrun with fear. As his friend pretended she was a snake, chasing him around the trail, Josiah ran to me in a slight panic on the verge of tears saying "She's a snake! Is she really a snake mom?", as if borrowing my perspective on reality because he knew his might not be quite right.
I remember the power of my own toddler imagination. My dear and unfortunate Josiah must have inherited my almost hallucinogenic imagination. In fact my waking dreams are extremely clear from about 2 or 3 years old. I vividly remember chasing tiny egg people all over the carpet and trying to capture them in a jar. I pretended I was Gargamel from the Smurfs and the tiny running egg people were my prey. I took about 7 or 8 of those little suckers hostage in my jar. I wanted to prove to someone that they were real. After, catching them I ran to show them to my mom. As I held up the evidence, to my dismay, the little egg people were gone! BLAST! Foiled again!
But that's not all, I also remember seeing an alien curled up in the top of my closet, in the fetal position... creepy. It may sound weird but I'm so glad I still have those memories. I can totally relate with my son and his lively little world. When he sees a shadow in his room and is scared, I totally get it. I'm not sure I've even outgrown that yet :/
His world is so fun and so scary sometimes. Josiah's reality reminds me of The Lion the Witch and Wardrobe. Things that seem ordinary, like a wardrobe are actually entry ways into new and exciting and dangerous world's where animals talk and great enemies await to be defeated. My hope is to never forget what it's like to be a little kid. To remember the things that confused and frustrated me about the adults around me is becoming more and more important the older my son gets. It's so easy to cuddle a baby and teach a toddler to walk and talk. These things just seem to happen, but I have to really try and remember and deliberately choose to enter my four year old's world. When I do, it is a gift to him and myself, but it's so hard to do sometimes. My own agenda robs me of this too often and I need real empowerment to be able to ditch a little of the adult world, so I decided to consult an expert for advice.
I asked Josiah recently, "what can I do to be a better mom for you?" He thought for a minute and said "Play, ummm and be nice and PLAY!" I get it son. Maybe more play would do us both some good. I think my imagination still works... I can see the egg people now ;)