We'd been to the shopping centre to pick up some new DVDs for the kids because frankly, I'm a little over all the one-on-one time we've been having.
I'm kidding, I'm kidding!
Or not. You decide.
So new DVDs and also an Optimus Prime bouncy ball that cost about five bucks more than it should have (it was $6). And cinnamon donuts.
The little fella was in the pram, the big guy was walking. This arrangement is always punctuated by me shouting for Luca to, "Come back!" and for Zee to, "Sit down!"
It's an event.
When we were done with the centre and all safely strapped into our carseats, Luca's voice drifted from the back seat.
"I try to be a good boy, Mumma. But my heart doesn't let me."
"Oh!" I said. "Why not?"
"Because my heart wants to be naughty."
And it hit me then. I am holding my kid to the standards of another child. A child with a different heart.
You know those kids who walk directly beside their mother's, never rushing ahead or champing at the bit to get away? Just calmly and seemingly, contentedly, going wherever their mother leads?
I have been trying to turn my kids into that kid. That kid is the model kid. That kid is the one whose parents are lavished with praise for raising such a well-behaved child. That kid is the one I stare at longingly and whose mother I want to set on fire with my raging envy.
But who is that kid? Is that kid shy? Frightened of large spaces or crowds? Or just docile by nature? Maybe walking beside their mum is what their heart wants to do.
That's not my kid. Either of them. They are both runners. Little boys with boundless energy. They notice things and exclaim. They are fascinated by the huge sparkly Christmas decorations, smile and wave at perfect strangers and delight in the echo their booming voices make in the underground carpark.
They are just like me.
It's in their hearts.
So today I realised I need to give them the space to be what is in their hearts. Naturally, I don't want them to run screaming around the shopping centre and as I explain to them, the reasons for that are primarily ones of safety. There are boundaries to everything in life and it serves them well to acknowledge those boundaries. But if Luca wants to stop and watch the escalator for a few minutes, there's nothing so pressing in my day that I can't stop and let him. If he wants to hear his voice echoing back to him, is it so terrible that he use a loud voice for that moment? If a passerby is offended by the volume of my child's imaginative exploration, then fuck them.
I need to let my children off the leash – the leash of my expectations of who I 'think' they should be.
I told Luca, "You know, wanting to run and shout and throw the ball in the shopping centre isn't naughty, honey. I know those are fun things to do. But when we're in a shopping centre with lots of other people, it's dangerous. I just want to make sure that neither you or anyone else gets hurt, does that make sense?"
Today I let my kid off the hook for being a kid.
It felt good.
In case you missed it, I'm also keeping a guest pregnancy journal over at Birth.com.au – check it out here. And the new entry here. I'd love you to leave a comment telling me what a radiant pregnant woman I am. Note: there isn't an actual photo, I'm hoping you'll use your imagination and imagine me really, really radiant….