I have a new parenting resolution and I think it might kill me.
I am trying to let Wolfy set the pace more often. But I am a fast-paced person. I like being a person who gets a ton of stuff done every day. I like moving quickly and with purpose. Wolfy does not believe any of this is important.
The other day I decided to put my new resolution to test in front of the toy store. Wolfy likes to stand in the front of the store and look at the window display. So for my experiment, I decided to let him stand there for as long as he wanted. I wanted to see just how long he would stay there pointing and naming everything in the window.
He didn’t just stand there naming the big stuff like bikes and stuffed animals. No, he had to say the word for every figure in the Play Mobile display. Every tree, every rock. Then he did it all over again. This was interspersed with questions every few moments. “What’s that? Why’s that there?” It went on and on until I couldn’t take it anymore, and besides, I have a small bladder.
My theory is that someone spending a lot of time with a toddler invented the concept of the “teachable moment”.
For Wolfy, there’s a teachable moment every five seconds. The world is an exciting place and he wants to explore every inch of it. In college I took child development. Part of the class was about brain development in young children. It is all about building neural connections. Wolfy has more neural connections in his brain right now than I do. He will pare all of the useless connections away later, but right now his brain is saying, “More! More! More!” And so, I try to be patient and let him explore even though inside I’m screaming, “Hurry up! What’s wrong with you? You are driving me absolutely crazy!”
I know it’s impractical and impossible to let Wolfy lead the way.
My goal is just to do it sometimes and it is starting to get easier. One powerful motivation is that when I let Wolfy set the pace, our days seem to go smoother. We are both in more pleasant moods because I’m not in the role of constantly nagging and Wolfy is not constantly being told what to do.
Recently we were at an expo and Wolfy was given a cheap plastic pinwheel. As we were walking back to our car, the wind caught the blades and turned the pinwheel really fast. Wolfy’s face lit up. “Do it again!” he said and then tried to find the on-button. We spent ten minutes together, exploring how the pinwheel worked. Blowing on it and tilting it into the wind. Before my experiment, I would have rushed Wolfy to the car and onto whatever was happening next. But instead I let Wolfy take the lead and actually found myself enjoying it.
And we did make it back to our car. Eventually.