Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lessons from a Child: Transitions with a toddler

My son is now old enough, tall enough, and interested enough to help me wash dishes. Perhaps I should define help from a 15 month old.

He climbs onto the sturdy chair I have placed next to the sink, chooses a utensil and a dish at random, and proceeds to play in the water. Sometimes he bangs them together to make music. He plays in the spray of he water and sudsy foamy bubbles. More importantly, he gets to share my world.

Elbow to elbow, we work.

Occasionally, he hands me a dirty dish. And I smile and say 'thank you - what a good helper" and I proceed to scrub it. Sometimes he takes a newly washed and perfectly clean dish out of the drying rack and adds it to his collection of forks, spoons, pots, and pans that still have remnants of lunch on them. 'That's the point of this game, right Mom?' his innocent smile seems to say. I try not to get frustrated.

So when almost all the dishes are clean (some washed twice) and he has one lonely spoon and bowl left in the sink that he is tinkering with, I start drying the dishes.

While I'm working, I'm stalling for time. I am deliberately delaying the moment that I know is coming.

Because I am a chicken.

I look over at him and heave a long sigh. It's time. Like all good things, this too must end.

I gently say "this is the last dish to wash - we're all done", I scrub the dish, and announce hopefully "let's go play with the blocks." But he wants to stay and play with the water (for hours if I let him). And he's not budging.

"Let's go read a book." Nope.
"Let's go play with your toys." Not taking the bait.
"Let's go play with the ball." Who am I kidding?
"Say goodbye to the water. We're done. Bye-bye water." No.
Last ditch effort. "Help mommy put this bowl away in the cabinet." NOOOOOO!

He will not willingly leave the chair, the sink, and the 'fun'. Ugh.

I understand. He likes being busy. He likes working and contributing in his way. And he wants to stay and play with the water. I understand. I really do. Because I like being busy and contributing too. And I can't stand at the kitchen sink all day like a lifeguard. I have many more tasks to accomplish.

If I can just lure him away from the sink, I can do those activities. Lovingly and firmly, I take him off the chair and the crying starts. He flails around and I set him down. He collapses in a miserable heap on the floor.

Not working.

Poor little guy. It's rough when something we want to do, something we are in a good groove with, changes. Life is like that. Transitions happen. And how we learn to adapt to and allow transitions dictates our level of happiness or unhappiness.

My toddler son is learning to adapt. [I am too.] He is learning to enjoy what he has while he has it. When it is gone (and sometimes after a good cry) he finds a new endeavor. He sees the joy in another task, another event, another time.

I think about people who haven't learned to adapt to transitions. Life is so incredibly difficult for them. There are times that I balk at change too --- times when my stubborn ego digs its heels in.

Then, I hear my Divine self speaking: You are going to be okay --- adapt with the transition. Everything is happening in right timing and right order for your Divine evolution. It's part of the journey to have transitions and changes, some comfortable and some that stretch the comfort zone. My toddler son is developing perfectly and so am I.

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