First Kiss

Do you remember your first kiss?

My youngest has a ‘girlfriend’ that he’s known since kindergarten. Now, you wouldn’t know they are boyfriend and girlfriend because they barely interact with each other when in close proximity. But there are these moments when they are inseparable. It doesn’t take much, when one of them initiates doing something with the other.

There was an “engagement” last summer when, during a day at summer camp, they decided they wanted to plan out their life and make it official. Our families had a picnic to celebrate their plans. We have some great pictures of them. While their pretend ceremony was very innocent, and they posed for pictures as though they were kissing, they actually did not. My youngest was fine with this, and thought all of it was good fun.

His girlfriend moved to another school this year, so their interaction has been even less with the exception of the occasional playdate. When she last came over to play, they did what the normally do, they sat in the same room, but proceeded to read books and not actually play together. As their playdate was ending, his friend suddenly decided they needed to play a quick board game (is that even possible?) and while her mom and I allowed them to play for a few minutes, we were working to wrap it up so everyone could go home. While her mother and I were talking, the kids decided to resume their almost ceremonially kiss pose they had at the picnic. I have no idea what prompted this, as it happened so quickly. After seeing what they were up to, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but it didn’t take long to figure it out. My son went in for the kiss this time and was smiling from ear-to-ear following. It was very sweet. I was happy for him that his first kiss was with a girl he really liked. I was happy that he didn’t have to go through the fretting I did in wondering when the first kiss would happen and who would it be with. It also felt like I just passed a milestone with my son way earlier than I’d anticipated. Of course, every milestone that occurs reminds me how quickly my sons are growing up. And while things can move fast in life, I’m don’t want it to go by at such a rapid pace.  I realize this is a bit out of my control, but boy, would I love to slow down time sometimes.

How do you experience milestones with your child?

 

I Wish…

If you could wish for anything, what would it be?

After seeing a cartoon where the main character was asked to make three wishes, my son turned to me and said, “Mom, what would you wish for?” I couldn’t help but say, “Three more wishes!” He smiled and said, “Okay, what would you ask for if you had six wishes?” I know what I would have said if I were the age of my son — more toys, or clothes, or money…whatever the wish would have been it would have included *MORE*.  As an adult, I had to think for a moment.  “Hmmm. I would wish that we all get to live a long, healthy life and no one dies from disease or tragedy.” “What else?,” my son asked, “You still have five more wishes left.” I kept going, though have to admit it was getting harder to think of what else I’d wish for. If I could guarantee my family would live long healthy lives, I don’t think I’d need anything more. “Okay…I’d wish for all of us to have fun all the time. I’d wish that all of our family members and friends are safe. I’d wish all people who were struggling would find hope or help.” I came up with my remaining wishes, but honestly it was pretty tough. The things I wanted to wish for were things I couldn’t control. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could?

After the holiday season ends, the January Blues can hit. It can make us wish for many things: for the cold and stormy weather to give way to warmth and sunshine; for a change of scenery; for a new start; for something better for us or those around us. Our wishes are endless. But what do you wish for that you can make a reality? Versus what is out of your control?

I’ve revisited the wishes I listed to my son and have revised my list slightly. I still wish I could guarantee that we’d all live long healthy lives (not in my control), but since I can’t my wish is that I make the most of each day and take nothing for granted more often (it’s not easy to do, but it is in my control), that I’d keep my eyes ‘open’ and experience what is around me more (not always easy to do, but still in my control), and find and experience joy when and where it happens more. I guess my older self still wanted more after all.

What do you wish for this year?

W

The Scariest Thing of All – Part 2

My fear has changed since having kids.  Keeping my children and family safe is at the top of my list. This recently led to an epiphany for me on how I differ from others in how I deal with stress (or fear or anxiety).

When we went camping a few months ago, a lightning storm unexpectedly arrived. The thunder was loud and lightning was getting closer. As my husband was tending to the tent and campfire he was building with our oldest son my anxiety went through the roof.  I didn’t experience a gradual increase in anxiety.  The thunder boomed, my anxiety shot up and I immediately thought, we need to get inside. Our car was parked nearby and I felt this was much safer than being outside. Our youngest son was upset by the thunder and asked to go into the car. We went into the car and I tried to wait as patiently as I could for my husband and older son to arrive.  It took them several minutes and a lot of nonverbal communication between my husband and I (picture me giving him the “what are you doing?” and “get over here now” looks). My husband wasn’t pleased, but eventually complied and they got into the car.  While I thought it was obvious we needed to get in the car my husband didn’t feel the same. He didn’t appreciate my anxiety because he wasn’t experiencing the same thing I was.

I would love to tell you I came to this realization on my own, but I didn’t. Someone shared some very good insight with me.  People experience stress (which takes many forms including anxiety or fear) in different ways. Some confront stress, take it on and work to get through it. Others avoid it altogether. Simply put, some people handle stress by taking action, others by inaction.

When you and your spouse disagree about something, each of you thinks you’re right, and it’s common to try to coerce your spouse to your way of thinking. Except it doesn’t work and can lead to unwanted compromise and resentment.

I experience fear in real-time.  I trust my gut. I do not have an off button or a way to avoid feeling it. It is front-and-center when it occurs and can get very intense very quickly depending on how fearful I am.  My husband doesn’t experience stress the way I do, and we’re learning how to better communicate what’s really going on which each other when we experience stress, and what we can do to meet each other’s needs.

It’s not easy, but it’s needed. I realize I can no longer expect him to feel what I’m feeling, but need to make it clear to him that I’m experiencing stress (e.g. I am getting very uncomfortable being outside with this lightning and thunder).  If he is unwilling to share my stress, I need to be clear on how he can help me feel better (e.g. can we get in the car for the next 15 minutes until the storm passes?).  It’s little tweaks for us to better communicate and understand each other.  It’s about feelings (talk about scary!) and being confident enough to know when you are experiencing them and when they’re not.

How do you handle stress?  Do you take action or do you avoid dealing with the situation?

By not taking action, do your family members experience stress?