This morning, as every morning for the last two months, my son’s first words as I opened his door to lift him out of his crib:
“Is it a school day?”
“Yes love, it’s a school day.”
“Is it a shorts day?”
“Today it’s cloudy and cold, so it’s a pants day.”
The tears that followed would indicate I had told him we were canceling his birthday, or I was flushing his blankie down the toilet. My son has decided that wearing shorts is akin to happiness and all that is good in life. Pants are just the opposite. I’m 99 percent sure it stems from the fact that my husband is a perpetual, around-the-year-shorts-wearer (even when we lived in NY this was the case), so shorts and daddy go together.
But the insistence on things being just so is a fact of life with my three-year-old, as it is with most little preschoolers. Don’t try to walk out of the room before him, because you’ll be ordered to stop, take a few steps back and “let him be the fastest.” He’s got a plan in mind — don’t mess with it.
When it comes to potential hair-pulling moments like this, my response surprises me. Here’s why:
I’ve never considered myself the most patient person. In fact, before I had a baby it worried me a bit that my patience would be too thin to handle the intense moments of stubbornness and flagrantly-irrational meltdowns inherent to toddlerhood.
But in a strange turn of events, I seem to have produced a well of calm that — unless things are really chaotic — I can draw from in moments like the these. I distance myself just a tad when the waterworks over leg-wear or the comparative speed with which I leave a room begin. Not in a cold way, just in an observant way. I watch my emotional little preschooler and know he’s supposed to be dead set on things that seems totally irrelevant to me (like whether he can attach the final wing to his Lego airplane before dinner, or whether I pause at the third stair from the bottom to let him pass me before we get to the driveway).
I intellectualize it just a bit — enough to allow myself to take a step back, reflect his feelings, and come up with a new solution.
So this morning, I tapped into my well of calm. I laughed on the inside about how crazy and cute it is that my son has such strong opinions on his attire. In the end, he walked out the door in tight green dinosaur shorts with pants over them. A perfect solution.