As a parent, there’s no shortage of opportunities to say to your child: “What are you doing?” “What is that?” “What’s happening?” “Where are your pants?” and so forth. I most likely asked my child at least two of these questions on any given day last week. These queries are the common refrain of parenting, the chorus that you hear at any playground, mall or amusement park. What breaks up the chorus though, and makes parenting so joyous, are the moments that make you say, “Wow.” Wow, my child inspires me. Wow, my daughter is so kind. Wow, she surprised me today. The wow moments are the special links between you and your child, the small but meaningful opportunities throughout the day in which she feels pride in herself and you are equally amazed by her. These moments are the life raft of parenting that float us through the sea of chauffeuring our children to soccer games and play dates; spills and bedtime tantrums; their refusal to wear pants and brush hair; and our feeling tired, overextended and frumpy.
I had a couple of these wow moments last week. My daughter has her first best friend, Millie. Hailey and Millie are classmates and have become really close throughout the school year. They do the typical 4-year-old best friend things: Run around to see who’s fastest, climb trees, play Mommy and walk around holding hands (which is so precious I say, “Eeeeeeeeee” every time I see this). On a recent trip to the park together, Millie scraped her foot, which began to bleed, and was very upset about it. While Millie’s nanny ran to the car to find a Bandaid, Millie was verging on hysterics. It was in that moment, that I first witnessed my child’s ability to console, to empathize, to care for her friend. She sat down next to Millie, rubbed her back, spoke quietly and soothingly, gave her sips of water and then poured some water on Millie’s scrape. By the time Millie’s nanny returned with the Bandaid, Millie was smiling. I was so proud. Small side note: Sometimes when I’m trying to minimize the drama associated with a “boo boo” I’ll make light of it and tell Hailey to “rub some dirt on it.” When Hailey was trying to console Millie, she whispered to her, “Sometimes my mommy tells me to rub dirt on my boo boos. I think that might help.” End side note.
Hailey has always had a tough time with transitions, so I knew the last day of school would be difficult for her. When it came last week, it ended up going well until it came time to say goodbye to Millie. Hailey and Millie will be playing together all summer and they will be in the same class next year. Nevertheless, when we said goodbye to Millie on the last day of school, Hailey’s eyes filled with huge tears and she refused to say goodbye. Instead she ran to a bench and buried her head in her arms. Millie walked up to Hailey, arms extended, asking for a hug. Hailey shook her head in refusal. Millie walked away with her nanny, dejected. Millie’s nanny and I didn’t intervene, letting the situation unfold and the feelings be felt. Hailey sadly watched Millie walk away. When Millie rounded the corner of the building, Hailey bellowed, “Millieeeeeeeeeeeee!” and ran to her. Millie came running around the corner to Hailey, both had arms outstretched, and they collided into an embrace that lasted about 30 seconds. Joy. Just joy all the way around.
And I’ll be riding those wow moments through the next few weeks. What are your wow moments?