Abbott doesn't like to be told no. I mean, that's not uncommon, right? No one likes to be told no. But with him, it's not like he just doesn't like to stop what he's doing. The way he cries, it's like he feels a deep shame for having done it in the first place. And you know, he's the only toddler I've ever known this well, so maybe they're all like that. But this morning I got an glimpse into why he might be like that.
I had a dream about my mom. It was Mother's Day and I had gotten her some kind of intricate (and frankly, very impractical) indoor sprinkler system, complete with permanent plastic flooring. But when I went downstairs to give it to her, she was sick. Really sick, like right before she died. And it was silly, me giving her this sprinkler system. In my dream, she asked me if I could go get her some printer paper. I told her, well, I know you like art; should I get you some colored paper? As I said it, I looked around and saw she had some stacks of colored paper that had been all cut up and used. And she stood up, and put my face in her hands, and told me, You are a good girl. You are a good daughter.
And I woke up. And cried and cried and cried. Harder than I have about her in years.
It's amazing to me how powerful a parent's approval is. And how I didn't know I still needed it, 13 years after my mom died. It's been a rough couple weeks at work.
We as parents have this power, and it's so simple. The night of Abbott's first school art show, I told him, "Abbott, Mom and Dad are so proud of you." It was the very first time I had ever used that word around him, but he got it. His eyes lit up and he said, "Mama? Daddy? Proud. Abbott." And he kept saying it over and over. He still says it pretty regularly, with that same look in his eye. He really feels it.
Now, we do tell him no when we need to. I can be pretty stern with the little guy. But the love is so easy to give. Why not just give it?