Last week I was reminded of an incident (if you want to call it that) that took place over twenty-seven years ago. It wasn’t anything big or dramatic, but like all those little things usually do, it holds a lesson for us all.
Picture it…five little ones sitting around a table eating their lunch. They were ages, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 18 or nineteen months. The 4 and 1 ½ year old were mine—the other three were my friends’ boys whom I took care of frequently.
Anyway…everyone was pretty much done, so I was wiping hands and faces so they could get down to play. Elizabeth, the 1 ½ year old, however, still obviously had a mouthful of something. Upon further investigation, I discovered she was ‘hoarding’ her diced up apple in her cheek like a chipmunk. Why? Who knows? But nothing I said or did could convince her to swallow that apple—not even threatening to take away her beloved Stacy (her doll).
Elizabeth held that cheek full of apple in her mouth for HOURS. I’m talking like four or 5 hours! Why? Again, who knows. But here is what I do know…
Kids hold on to a lot more than a mouthful of mushed up apple. They hold on to memories of games played, stories read, and harsh words spoken and being ignored. They hold on to memories of favorite foods, favorite shirts, and being criticized for being chubby and looking sloppy or ‘weird’ or whatever term you used. Kids hold on to memories of camping trips, picnics, the first fish they caught, and seeing the back of your head more than any other part of you because you were too busy working or taking time for yourself.
Are you holding on to what I’m putting out there for you to take hold of? I hope so, but I’m not done yet. There’s a flip-side to this coin. Sometimes kids hold on to things they need to let go of. We parents are people, too. We’re not perfect. So if have a child who is holding on to the fact that you missed a school program—even though you didn’t miss fifty-two others, don’t let them make you feel guilty or use this as a weapon against you. Or if your child won’t let go of the fact that your trust in them has been broken because of something they’ve done, don’t let them use this to make you feel guilty or second-guess yourself. They are the ones that need to let ‘it’ go and work towards rebuilding that trust.
Holding on to the right things can be great. It can even save your life. Holding on to the wrong things, however, can get you and your children hurt. So do your best to be the kind of parent who gives your child enough good things for them to fill their hand and arms with. In doing so, hopefully they won’t have any room left for the not-so-good things. Either way, if you do the best you can, you can go to bed each night knowing that you did just that—your best.
We’ll never know why Elizabeth held on to that mouthful of apple all those years ago. Maybe it was to give me something to write about today. J
Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be printed or used without permission from the author.