Why I am lucky to have ‘That Child’

HariboI remember many an evening spent in restaurants rolling my eyes at wayward children. I recall huffing at rustling sweetie wrappers at the cinema. In hindsight, I can see I was a frosty cow to all families that may have crossed my path anywhere my childless self was trying to have a good time.

I suppose that’s what you call karma. I am now mother to ‘that child’ you know, that child who finds the flip up cinema chairs fascinating and can’t leave them alone, who rustles countless bags of popcorn and gives away vital plot information. Who will be asking for a wee or more sweets when there is an important bit of dialogue.  She’s the child standing on the chair in the restaurant or scampering under your feet to view the ice cream. She’ll drop forty forks, wear the napkin on her head and probably make up a loud and raucous ditty about poo.

Until I had Harriet I really thought you could control your children. That wild behaviour could easily be nipped in the bud, but I’ve tried everything, reasoning, no deserts, shouting, evil stares, even eviler stares complete with brow furrow. Nothing works, and now I realise why. Harriet is a little person. She has her own personality that cannot be controlled by me and quite rightly so. I have my personality and no one can change me, good lord people have tried. So why should I expect to have the divine skill to change someone else’s…no matter how young.

Originally this was going to be a very different blog, a moan if you will about trying to control my mini firework, but then friends made me realise how lucky I am to have such a bright and sparky girl.

Harriet is a tiny bundle of energy. I dare not give her a blue slushy and I honestly believe if she even got a whiff of a can of Monster she would create so much energy that a nuclear reaction would occur and that would be the end of the world.

She is exuberant, joyful, adventurous, fearless and she never ever tires. What she lacks in stature she makes up for in pure spirit. This is a truly wonderful thing to see, but she is exhausting and exasperating. When she is doing a bare bottomed ‘wiggly bum dance’ on your bed at 6am or dangling perilously upside down from a tree that’s a fair run away, it takes all the energy I have to keep up. Since having Harry I’ve aged approximately 497 years.

Going out for meals is difficult. Harriet can barely sit still. Crayons won’t hold her attention for long and I’ve had to get over my deep rooted disappointment of her not colouring in the lines. She gives no shits about the lines…lines are meant to be coloured over, who has time for that?! She’ll want to explore the toilets, comment loudly on the other diners and basically avoid eating anything you have paid for.

Recently after an exhausting evening of trying to control her I wearily asked, ‘Harriet, why can’t you behave, why can you not sit like the other girls? I was embarrassed’. She simply looked at me, the only time she had been still and serious all night and said unapologetically ‘That’s just the way I am, Mummy. I can’t help it. I am just so EXCITED!!!!’ and with that I realised she was right. Harriet is being herself. She doesn’t care that she’s not like the other girls, she doesn’t care if frosty childless couples are tutting. She – just – doesn’t- care, and actually that’s great. She spent the tram trip home swinging on poles and trying to hit the stop button, still being herself.

How I’d like to go out and not once think about what anyone else thought of me. That kind of mental freedom must make you exuberant.

She wakes up nearly every morning and announces ‘I am SOOO excited’ I ask her what about and the reasons vary ‘It’s my birthday soon’ (it’s in three months) ‘I saw a butterfly’ ‘These pyjamas are purple!!!’ The most mundane things can be amazing to her. She’s been looking forward to a weekend away at Centre Parcs for months and her excitement is literally fizzing like a well shaken can. When we get there she may have to be let out of the car slowly so she doesn’t ricochet all over the park.

How wonderful must it be to be that excited about life? Even when I do have something to get excited about it gets tainted. When I wake up on the day we are going on holiday, my first emotion isn’t excitement, its worry ‘did I pack the sun cream, is my passport in date, who’s feeding the cat’ Oh to be like Harriet and just enjoy the day. I envy her.

Even though Harriet steals my energy, tires me out and embarrasses me daily. I love her just the way she is and I need to learn from her because who has the better outlook on life. The optimistic, go getter afraid of nothing who finds the world a glorious place full of endless possibilities, or the careful worrier who stops herself from fear of failure.

Who knew my best teacher would be a four year old girl. And if you ever see her around cover your can of Monster, one whiff and it’s the end of life as we know it.

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