Last night, my son was having a tough night. He had had a long day at his midwinter break daycamp because I had to work later than normal, and he was looking forward to coming home to play his favorite online game and watch his favorite YouTube channel. But the WiFi wasn’t working well, it was a windy night and the router was wonky. And so, in the midst of playing a game, he would suddenly shriek. Or sigh heavily. Or bang on the keyboard in frustration. Eventually, he cried.
“Stop crying, please,” I said, from the couch. I was lying there, watching my recorded episode of The Bachelor after a long day at work, looking for a little decompression time, myself.
“BUT IT WON’T WORK!” He cried. He slammed his laptop shut and layed in a heap on the floor, clearly frustrated.
“I’m not going to help you when you’re acting that way,” I said. “If you can come over and ask me calmly for some help, maybe I can take a look. Why don’t you play with something else? Your cars or trucks? Read a book?”
“NO!” yelled my normally good natured and sweet son. “JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!”
I gasped. I looked at him, lying in an unintended downward dog pose on the floor and in that moment I realized – thank goodness, I realized – he didn’t need Perfectly Good Idea mom. He didn’t need a timeout. He didn’t even really need the WiFi to work, although I’m sure that would’ve helped significantly. What he needed was me. Me, connected with him. That’s it.
I paused my show, even though Sharleen was just about to break up with Juan Pablo and it was major, but that’s beside the point.
“Do you want to watch something together?” I asked.
He looked up, his eyes red. His whole face red.
“Something we both agree on?” he asked, his voice tiny and adorably hopeful.
“Yes, something we both like.”
“Yeah,” he said, and he jumped up onto the couch with me. We decided on a Pokemon episode. He cuddled up, my nearly 8 year old little angel, and I tousled his hair and bent to kiss his cheek as he covered us both up with his favorite blue blankie.
I closed my eyes and forced myself to cherish that moment, to remember it, to burn it into my brain. You see, I also have a sweet 19 year old. I know all too well how quickly kids grow up. How fast they go from wanting nothing more than their mom to truly wanting to be left alone. How quickly the days of watching TV together turn into walking down the hall and hearing a TV blaring behind a closed bedroom door. I know how fast our little ones become teenagers with friends and dates and cell phones of their own, and it happens before you realize it’s even happening. Oh, trust me, friends. It happens in a snap.
Do yourselves a favor and remember this: they won’t be little forever. Juan Pablo can wait – make room on that couch today.