We had a rough start to the week today. Too much summer vacation, too many weeks of late nights and late mornings and rules that have been put on hold, I suppose. My son was scheduled to start a new week of soccer camp and from the minute his feet thumped on the floor next to his bed (the daily sign to the entire house that he is awake…and therefore, we are all about to be), it wasn’t working out.
He cried when we reminded him it was soccer camp day. He whined when we asked him to get dressed. He looked at us with wide-eyed dismay when we asked him to look for socks and running shoes. My husband took drop off duty with him while I handled our daughter and was texting me “this isn’t looking good” two minutes after camp was scheduled to begin.
An hour later, it wasn’t any better. Non-stop tears. Not willing to participate. A call from the coach saying that it might be best if we picked him up.
I would be lying if I said I had the patience for it. I had a busy work day ahead, this was a soccer camp filled with kids his age and fun coaches, it was Monday. I didn’t understand why it was so difficult for him. Why he was making it so difficult. Why I had to drop everything to pick up a six year old like he was three again.
A few hours later, I went to collect my daughter at her camp. I told her what happened with our morning and asked her to give her brother a pep talk about camp and adjusting to new people and new activities and trying harder on Tuesday. She agreed to. And then…
“It must be a tough summer for him,” she said matter of factly. “It’s his first year where he didn't stay at preschool. It’s his first time doing camps. It’s his first time doing a lot of new things.”
She looked out the passenger side window, not giving another thought to what she had said. Moving on mentally and physically.
But I stayed right there.
She was absolutely right. This was a big transition year for him. It had been a long, hot summer filled with new things and new people and new routines. It was nothing he knew and everything he didn’t. And I was so focused on the moments of frustration, on the trials and tantrums, on the minutiae of camp schedules and conference calls…that I didn’t think about it at all.
You know that expression about seeing the forest for the trees? I think we do that a lot in parenting. We see the trees. We see the weeds. We see the boulders as they hurtle towards us.
We see the moments and memories that leave us exhausted and tired and impatient.
But I needed to see the forest.
I needed to see my son’s exhausted face, the stress in his overtired body, the emotional white flag in his behavior – signs of a growing body, mind and spirit. I needed to see the big picture beyond this Monday morning and this soccer camp and my schedule. To remember that a lot of all of this is still new for him. That eight weeks of summer can be a lot the first time. A lot of fun, yes. But also a lot of change and unpredictability and boulders hurtling at you.
I needed to see the forest. And I needed a ten-year-old to help me do it.