I was reminded once again today that kids are very different than grown-ups.
Now I know this revelation isn’t exactly mind boggling, but sometimes I think most of my frustration as a parent ends up being because I just didn’t have the right expectations to start with – sub-consciously I expect an adult-like reaction or response, and I get annoyed when this isn’t forthcoming.
I’ll set the scene for you.
I am on holidays this week and have had a lovely – albeit busy – few days with Bookworm, Picasso and Little Miss. Yesterday we went shopping, out for morning tea, played tennis and cards, read books and gardened. We also spent a lovely time looking at the scrapbooking albums I made for the kids on their dedication days. I had made just one album for both the boys, because they were dedicated on the same day, and another one for Little Miss when it was her turn a few years later. Picasso said he wanted his own one, just for him, and I promised him that I would at some stage make one, so he wouldn’t have to share with Bookworm.
Today I did more shopping, took Bookworm and Picasso to the movies and out to lunch, did a thousand loads of washing, then set about busily packing to take everyone to my grandmother’s funeral, and then on a mini-break to Canberra, over the next few days.
Yeah, it’s as tiring as it sounds. So you can imagine my annoyance when I’m crashed out on the couch after packing all the bags and Picasso asks me why I haven’t made an entire scrapbooking album for him since yesterday. Because of course he thought of it yesterday, and he can’t understand why it’s not been done yet.
What followed was not my most shining mothering moment. I got cross – I accused Picasso of being ungrateful and of course it all ended in tears. When we talked it through he was distraught, because he just hadn’t realised how long it takes to scrapbook an album, and he genuinely thought I could and would do it in the five minutes after he asked me to (you know, just before I took another ten minutes and learned to fly a plane).
Kids just don’t have the same relationship with time that we do. I think it was Steve Biddulph who said we have prehistoric children in a modern world, and it is so true. I feel like I’m always hurrying everybody everywhere; I’m sure when my children eventually seek therapy it will be because I appear in their memories as this blurry image that keeps hissing, “Come on! We’re leaving in FIVE MINUTES! I can’t understand why you’re not dressed! I’ve said it three times!”
After we’d both calmed down I did explain to Picasso that making an album like that takes months, and I would try and get it done before Christmas. Patience is a good thing for him to learn – but I learned a lesson too. We shouldn’t assume our kids naturally understand something that we understand, because chances are they don’t.
And their concept of how long something takes is not necessarily accurate.
I think this revelation will come in handy tomorrow when we have to drive for seven hours (without Souljourneyboy). I am determined to keep my cool and not get stressed. I am prepared to play mind-numbing games of I Spy, answer countless queries about whether we’re “there yet” and sort out nonsensical arguments about who’s looking through whose window.
Stay tuned to see whether we all survive…