The past few months have given me two big insights as a parent. First, no matter how well I think I know my kids, they are capable of surprising me. Sounds obvious, right? After eight years with Eleanor, though, I had reached the point that I could predict her every reaction, her every like and dislike.
When I signed her up for spring soccer, I knew that she would be excited for the first game or two and then we would have to drag her through the rest of the season. Eleanor spends much of her time drawing, reading, and writing. When she is angry, she belts out operatic songs instead of yelling or stomping her feet. In short, she is artsy. Still, I signed her up for soccer because several of the families in our neighborhood were putting together a team. I wanted to give her one more chance to try sports before we gave up on them.
As predicted, she was very excited the first game and much less so the second. But a few games in, she stopped a couple of goals while playing goalie and won her team’s sportsmanship award. This child loves nothing more than a ribbon hanging around her neck. Since then, she has been super intense during games and loves playing defense. Friends, I did not see this coming. I guess this is all to say that even if you think you know your child, it’s always worth trying something new. Your soccer mom dreams could come true.
The second realization is that I won’t be able to give my children everything and that it isn’t my job to do so. This is another forehead-slap moment. My kids are not wildly spoiled (a little, maybe), and it’s not that I want to give them every material possession. Rather, I want to travel a lot with them and introduce them to all sorts of books, food, culture, etc.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned to Greg that Eleanor will (most likely) be leaving for college in 10 years. We are not going to be able to do all of the things. And that’s okay. One of my greatest joys as an adult is discovering something new, tasting something I’ve never had (which last weekend was eel) or reading a book I missed out on as a child (Anne of Green Gables!). That’s when I get the closest to feeling like a kid again.
And a final, bonus, insight: Humans, apparently, do not come equipped with an instinct to avoid snakes. Henry found a huge one at the park yesterday and ran toward it, at least until I began shrieking at him. I can’t give my kids everything, but I can give them a healthy fear of big snakes.