From my five year-old back-seat driver recently:
What time is it?
- It’s 5:43.
- Yes, 5:43.
Um… so, how much longer until we get home?
- About an hour.
- Because we can’t go any faster than this.
- Do you see that sign? What’s the number on that sign?
- Well, we’re not supposed to go any faster than that number. It’s called the speed limit.
How fast are you going?
- About 70.
What’s the number? What number are you going?
75? 75 is more than 70, right?
- Yes, it is. Not much more though.
But you’re not supposed to go faster than 70, right?
- That’s right. But we’ll be home soon. It’s not that much faster.
70 is the rule though, right? That’s what the sign says, right?
So, you don’t have to follow the rules?
What time is it?
- It’s 5:45.
Are we almost home?
I want to be a good mother. I’m consistently redefining what that means in a given situation. Just when I figured out what it means or how to be a “good” mother to a newborn – she was an infant. I barely got comfortable with that, then she moved into toddlerhood. I feel like I’m always catching-up somehow. Now that my oldest is five – and completely her own person – she’s asking So. Many. Questions.
About the world around her – about how she fits into it.
About WHY this? or
How Come? that.
Some of them are easy: “Why do I have to go to school everyday?”
Some of them are hard: “Wait. After we get the bacon from the pig, is the pig okay?”
When my daughter asks me a hard question, I have to decide how I feel and what I think and WHY I feel or think that way. I have to decide if I’m going to give her an answer that will shut down the next question because I WANT her to believe a certain thing or if I’m going to guide her to the next question with a question of my own that will help her to find out what SHE thinks and what SHE will believe. So what does the “good” mother do?
The “good” mother allows herself to question in order to answer.
This parenting thing is a lot of work. It’s okay that I don’t always have an answer. It’s okay that I’m wrong sometimes. As she grows, the questions will get harder (and more interesting). I look forward to how she and I will grow because of each other.
Sometimes I answer her questions. Sometimes I keep my foot on the gas, moving toward home, just trying to catch up…while I wait for the next question.