If you can’t beat ‘em, “cautiously” join ‘em

By Karrie McAllister

My Valentine’s Day wasn’t very romantic.
Oh, it’s not what you’re thinking. My husband did his job and brought home roses.
It was, naturally, my children who provided the laughs on the heart-filled holiday, and some stories are just too good to not share.
As parents, we are constantly challenged by the very personalities that are our children. When faced with these challenges, we do our very best. And sometimes our best turns out pretty good.
Other times it backfires.
Dealing with my son’s Valentine’s Day, it backfired.
Being a four-year old boy, he’s got little interest in learning his letters, numbers, or anything slightly academic. He’s been riding a two-wheel bike since he was three, but ask him to sit and trace the letters B-I-K-E is nearly impossible.
So after worrying about preschool and kindergarten looming ahead, I decided that drastic times call for drastic measures.
“Do you want to learn how to spell the word “toot?” I asked, hoping that his interest in smelly and gaseous noises might also perk his interest in the alphabet.
“Sure,” he answered, and he graciously traced the letters T-O-O-T on a piece of paper. He then pointed and said the letters, at which point my jaw dropped.
Apparently the little stinker of mine does know his letters – he’s just never had the right activity that interested him enough to do anything about it. And let’s face it, nothing sparks a little boy’s interest like flatulence.
So thinking I was on to something, I dug out the Spiderman notebook I bought for him ages ago, dusted it off, and got to work. On the top of each page I wrote every classic “boy” word I could think of.
Gun. Sword. Army. Poop. Worm. Butt. Booger. (You catch the drift.)
And that little booger of mine actually sat, pencil in hand, and practiced writing! I heard him naming the letters I thought he didn’t even know. “P-U-K-E.”
This was amazing. I was now pretty sure I was borderline genius.
But then this is where the Valentine’s Day part comes in.
For his preschool party, he needed to give each of the children and his teachers a valentine, for a total of thirteen hand-crafted notes of love.
All he had to do was put three heart stickers onto a piece of paper and simply sign his name, which he does quite well. But having the attention span of a fruit fly, I had to sit and work with him to make almost each and every one.
Finally, I left him to do the last three all on his own. I figured that after making ten of them, he should know what to do. Plus, if he was busy working, I might actually have five minutes to sit with my feet up without being nagged for a glass of milk.
Alone at the kitchen table, he worked quietly. I rested. And for a brief few moments of time, there was actually no noise in my house. It was wonderful.
But as little boys go, quiet doesn’t always equal good. In fact, it usually means he’s up to something. So I went over to check on his progress.
“Look, mom. I signed my name on all of these. Plus I wrote “poop” all by myself! I didn’t even need your help at all” he said, beaming with pride. “Aren’t you proud of me?”
And truthfully, I was. While it wasn’t the most appropriate word for sharing love with his classmates, the writing assignment I had devised had somewhat paid off. He was writing!
“I am proud of you, kiddo. Very proud.”
And once he had gone in the other room, I tore open the envelopes, crossed out his new found word, re-sealed them, and ate a piece of chocolate.


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