Image by liquene via Flickr
I was in one of those ponderous moods, the ones where you start to think about life’s deep questions that don’t really make much of a difference whether you have answer or not, or even if you have an answer, nothing’s changing, if it’s accurate or not.
So my question was, at what point is my son no longer an extension of me, but rather his own individual being. When can I no longer say, that he is I, but rather, just, he’s mine. I’d like to think that my kid would always be an extension of me; I love him so much, more than me, really. Him becoming an individual, well, part of me feels almost like it’s a betrayal to my love – aren’t I good enough?
Well, I came up a vague answer, something like, when he exhibits his own will. But I wasn’t really buying it, because babies exhibit their own will and desires from day one, and we, the adults submit to them.
And then I thought, when he does something that shows he’s an individual. Eh, to that too, not really quantifiable.
But it was ok that no definitive answer was reached, the mood passed, and I was on to more pressing matters, like how to remove pen ink from the toilet seat cover.
The next day, while playing with my son, I put out my arms for him to come to me. He looked my square in the face, and then shrugged is shoulder. I didn’t read the gesture at first, and reaffirmed my outstretched arms, and he shrugged again. This time I noticed. Where’d he pick that up?
And then the next day, I handed him a book, and instead of coming to sit on my lap, as he usually would, he raised the book over his head, and said,
“Un, doo, doo” and threw the book to the floor. I was puzzled, not really getting what he just did. But before I could question too much, he proceeded to pick the book up, raise it above his head again, repeat “Un doo doo,” and he threw it to the floor – again. A moment’s thought and I realized he was counting presumably to three, and throwing the book. How odd a behavior, where did he think to do that?
And then finally on the next next day, I asked my son, like all mothers do, in a high pitched rhetorical question voice, “E, right you love Mommy, right you love Mommy?!” And instead of looking at me dumbfounded, or possibly giggling, he responded,
“Nu- uh.” I ashamedly retorted with a mature “Yu-huh” before I even recognized the exchange.
First a shrug, then counting (and violence), and now a premature teenager doubting his mother’s love with a nu-uh? My kid was learning stuff, and it wasn’t from me. The obvious answer was, (cue ominous music) –the babysitter. The next day (which is the day after the next next day for those keeping track), I confirmed my suspicions with the babysitter.
“Do the kids shrug here? Do they count to three and throw stuff, do they say nu-uh” I demanded more than asked, in an indignant accusatory tone. She laughed – quite heartily, I’d say.
“Yes, they do, and your son, he likes to play with the big boys, so he’s always copying them, and learning from them, adorable, no?” she answered in her jovial Israeli accent.
And I then had an “Aha” moment. My son was no longer me. He was no longer me, because I was no longer his sole source of influence. But don’t I teach him enough, I protested to myself, don’t I teach him everything he needs to know, why am I not enough.
My son presses every nose he can lay his hands on (mine, the doll’s, the stuffed dog’s, the neighbor’s newborn) and says “Beep Beep.” I taught him that. Score one for Mommy influences, and I was feeling better
But then he went down the slide headfirst in the park the other day –It was so freakin’ cute, but I definitely didn’t teach him that, though maybe I should have, and maybe it’s a good thing there’s someone else who did.
It takes a village to raise a child, no?