Stop and Hold on Tight


“I’ll do better tomorrow, Mama.”

Those were the words that came from my three year old’s mouth this morning as I pulled out of the driveway. Do you know what he said he plans to do better tomorrow? Put his shoes on. The kid knew he took forever to put his shoes on, and within minutes he has resolved to better next time.

There have been LOTS of mornings when he’s made me angry, but today wasn’t one of them. It went something like this:

“Mom, Ella keeps shutting the closet door on me.”

“Well, perhaps if you didn’t sit inside the closet to put on your shoes, she wouldn’t do that.”

(Five minutes pass)

“Mom, Ella keeps shutting the closet door on me.”

“Well, perhaps if you didn’t sit inside the closet to put on your shoes, she wouldn’t do that.”

(Five more minutes.)

“Mom, Ella keeps shutting the closet door on me.”

“Well, perha-“

Anyway, you get the idea. There have been mornings where I wasn’t so complacent about the snail’s pace at which my children choose to move before. There have been mornings where I have screamed, “GET IN THE CAR NOW” in a guttural and frightening tone. Today wasn’t one of them.

On those angry mornings, the ones where I’m at the end of my rope before we’re even out of our pajamas, I can see why he might tell me that he’s going to do a better job getting out the door another day. He’s so sensitive and intuitive and he knows he CAN do better.He WANTS to do better. And, you know what? He always does. We all have back slides, though. We all have rough mornings. Today was definitely none of those. And yet, my son saw his behavior as inadequate.

As I drove to his daycare, I searched for the reason. Why did he think he hadn’t tried hard enough? Did I snap at him at some point and not even realize it? And then none of the causes mattered-it was just the effect that lingered in my mind-he thought he hadn’t done well enough.

“I’ll do better tomorrow, Mama.”

Although I absolutely refuse to stop the car to pick up dropped snacks, or to find the toy that slipped behind the car seat, or to pour some water into a sippy cup, I stopped today. I stopped and looked back at my little boy and said what he NEEDED to hear.

“You don’t need to do better tomorrow buddy. You did great today.”

I listed all the fantastic things he did before we left the house today: He ate his entire breakfast. He put his dishes away. He picked out his own outfit and put it on by himself. He brushed his teeth and put on his coat. He strapped himself in the car.

After I went through the list, he giddily smiled and wriggled his nose the same way he does whenever he’s proud of himself or especially excited. I don’t know what I did wrong to make him think he didn’t make the cut this morning. But I did know what I had to do right to make him feel better.

Sometimes, you just need to stop the car.

After picking the kids up later in the day, I strapped them into their seats and got into mine. I reached my hand back and searched for it-my little boy’s welcoming hand. He held on tight the entire ride home. It was my silent way of telling him that he IS good, he’s done GOOD. He didn’t ask why, he just continued to hold on tight.

I don’t have a lot of parenting advice: I’m learning as I go. But, try it. Try stopping and then hold on tight. I’m pretty sure it’s the right thing to do in a lot of situations.


Author: livefromtimeout

When I'm not refereeing my two children, I like to workout and drink wine. But not at the same time. Teaching happens to be my vocation and my passion.

2 thoughts on “Stop and Hold on Tight”

  1. Katie that’s a great lesson for all of us, at any age, with anyone. Thanks!

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