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This is my entry this week for the Exhibit A competition of therealljidol. I invite you to read and vote for the many fine entries. This week's topic is "Throw Back the Little Ones."

KFP Heading to Pool
KFP in his swimsuit

"Hold onto this," I tell my son, holding out a floating barbell for him to grab. Instead, he screams. While the other 2-and 3-year-olds cheerfully sing along to "The Alphabet Song" before jumping into the pool, and their waiting parents' arms, my little guy stands, knees bent, reaching for me, his face covered in tears.

As I try to convince him to wear the flotation belt, he shouts, "No! I don't want!"

The instructor wades up. Softly, she says, "Maybe he's just not ready yet. Why don't you go back to the Water Babies class for a while."

I'd been bringing my son to Water Babies since he was 6 months old, and he'd enjoyed learning to paddle, kick and float, with my loving hands to support him and guide him. He must have realized that, if he grabbed that barbell, he'd have been committing to a path that would one day mean no mommy in the water with him. He wasn't ready to rely on a flotation device instead of Mommy's comforting hands.

Fast-forward six months. I suspected he might be ready to move up, so after his Water Babies class, I cradled him on my lap in his duck towel, and we watched the more advanced class together. He remarked with amazement at the kids kicking while wearing swim belts and holding onto flotation barbells, their parents still at their sides, supporting them. When the class ended, I asked him if it looked like fun, and he said yes.

The following week, we tried the class again, and this time his reaction was the polar opposite. He clapped cheerfully along with the songs, readily wore the flotation device the teacher called a "Superman belt," and even chatted up a little girl, introducing himself by saying, "Hi! I'm 2."

Now, three weeks later, he's started crying again: when we leave.

Being a parent means being patient. I'll never forget the advice I read in an article by a mom talking about the frustrations of the "Terrible Twos." She counseled readers to remember that "it's just a phase." In fact, it's all a phase, even the things you love. Someday my son will be too big to sit in my lap. He might push my hand away with irritation when I try to smooth his hair. He may no longer bring me stacks of books to read to him, but instead, will secret himself in his room with his Kindle. It's all a phase, and I shouldn't be in such a rush for him to grow out of the phases I don't like, because he'll also grow out of the ones I do.

Patience has been a hard lesson for me. I'm like the impatient martial artist wannabe in the classic Frantics comedy sketch, "Ti Kwan Leep," who wants to know how long before he can "beat people up." When the instructor tells him to develop patience, he counters, "Patience? How long will that take?"

If I'd learned earlier to wait for the right moment, like a fisherman tossing back immature fish, I would have thrown back my first marriage; or that ill-fated museum marketing job with a micromanaging boss; or countless other impulsive choices.

Though some might think I waited too long to have a child -- I was 39 when he was born -- I'm glad that, for once, I waited until the time was right. When nosy neighbors ask me when I'll have a second one (an impractical suggestion at my age of 42), I tell them I got it right the first time. And as I watch him buzzing around the living room, playing with his new word puzzles -- my bright, busy boy -- I know he was worth waiting for.

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( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2013 07:47 am (UTC)
When nosy neighbors ask me when I'll have a second one, I tell them I got it right the first time.

What a great response! I hear people griping about not wanting to be an older parent sometimes, and I think, "Better older than not at all!"

It's a wonderful journey, and it only goes in one direction. So yes, while there are frustrations now and then, you're right in thinking that you can't give those up without the parts that are also magic. :)
Feb. 1st, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
I can't remember exactly where I first heard that response, but I borrowed it from another older mom. I agree: better older than not at all. It took me a long time to get to the point where I was ready. And honestly, I wasn't even sure I was ready at the time, but I knew I didn't have much time to delay.
Feb. 1st, 2013 08:54 am (UTC)
Awww. This was lovely, and very sweet. :)
Feb. 1st, 2013 05:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Feb. 1st, 2013 07:00 pm (UTC)
"..and even chatted up a little girl, introducing himself by saying, "Hi! I'm 2."

Haha! That was so cute. I am not a parent myself, but I feel like I experienced this to some degree with my sister who is eleven years younger than me. I definitely yearn for the days where she was a toddler and would follow me around everywhere wanting to colour with me and read stories. Now she just wants to watch youtube fashion and beauty videos and talk about One Direction..hahaha.

Edited at 2013-02-01 07:00 pm (UTC)
Feb. 1st, 2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
Feb. 1st, 2013 07:34 pm (UTC)
"Hi! I'm 2."
"Hi, I'm Katie, nice to meet you!"

God bless the Kung Fu Panda! :D
Feb. 1st, 2013 09:34 pm (UTC)
KFP is such a cutie!
Feb. 2nd, 2013 12:23 am (UTC)
My daughter lost it at swim class a few years ago and we took her home sobbing. She was so scared!!
I am 41 and I get asked too when I am giving her a sibling. Try never. She is happy with that and so am I!!
Feb. 2nd, 2013 03:52 am (UTC)
*dies of cute*

Bonus points for including the Frantics - "Boottothehead!"
Feb. 2nd, 2013 04:01 pm (UTC)
Even the things you love are a phase... That is quite possibly the hardest part of being a parent. It's like you have to grieve every past stage, even as you enjoy the new ones.
Feb. 2nd, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
I giggled when I saw your title - "boot to the head" is one of my favorite things. This was super cute!
Feb. 2nd, 2013 08:27 pm (UTC)
The joys of having a little one. Now that mine are grown and off to college I'd love to go back to them being small and wanting to cuddle with me.
Feb. 3rd, 2013 02:03 am (UTC)
Even though I never wanted children of my own, I love to hear your stories about KFP! I feel as though I've traveled this journey with you. Huggles my friend!
Feb. 4th, 2013 03:42 pm (UTC)
Great perspective here! As the mother of a soon to be 20 year old, I can say, enjoy every phase, because they're all too short!
Feb. 4th, 2013 03:55 pm (UTC)
BRAVO. This is fantastic. Frankly, I think waiting as long as you did was a great choice, there can't be anything wrong with having a little more life under your belt when raising a little one.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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