and to think…I could have missed this

It was late;  I needed Eleanor to come brush her teeth, but she was not interested. To show me just how uninterested she was, she had gone into her bedroom and closed the door. When I  finished preparing the toothbrush, cup of water, and washcloth I knocked on her door and went into collect her. She was standing at her easel, drawing with chalk. “Come see, Mommy. Come here.” I was not interested in placing demands (“NO. We need to go now.”) that I knew she would fight, so I  squeezed in behind as best I could. “Look,” she continued. “This is my mommy.” She started drawing a big circle. “You have a pony tail {so true; I almost always do}. These are your eyes. This is your baby. This is your mouth…” All the while she was drawing little circles (in roughly the right places even). “And these are your boobs,” she continued. {Nice.} “Look. That’s you mommy.”
“I see,” I said. “That’s me.” She looked to the top of the board where there was a large empty space. “And here’s my daddy.” She drew another large circle.  “He has a hair cut {he did recently get one}. Here are his eyes, nose, his mouth…” Again, she announced it was him when she was done.

Then she drew a smaller circle, off to the left. “This is me. These are my legs.” She drew two long lines on either side of the circle, extending all the way down to the bottom of the chalkboard. She paused. “And this is my bed,” she continued as she drew a box around the picture of herself. “I going to bed.”

She stopped, and looked at her work. “I love it,” I told her. “We should show daddy when he comes upstairs. We need to go brush your teeth now. Do you want to walk into the bathroom or should I carry you?”

“No. I need to go by myself,” she told me. True, I thought, that would be best. But she wasn’t moving; she was still looking at the chalk board. I hesitated, but she continued…

“My mommy went downstairs,” she said. And then she did something that blew me away. She erased me. The me that she had drawn. My pony tail and baby and boobs. Gone. I had gone downstairs. “Here’s my daddy, rubbing my back {he does this every night before he leaves her room} to go to sleep. It’s time to sleep. Daddy goes.”

And then she erased Tim. {I’m still watching her, silently stunned.}

“It’s time to go to bed.” She paused, erased herself, and walked out from behind the easel and into the bathroom to brush her teeth.

I have done a lot of reading about the power and importance of trust between a parent and child. I know that kids who are allowed to decide to do something are more likely to actually engage in the behavior (e.g. “You have a choice, you may pick up your toys now or after you brush your teeth.”). And, having recently read a post by Janet Lansbury on the power of play therapy, I have become much more attuned to the times when Eleanor talks to her animals; telling them stories, describing how things work, or making sure that they are engaging in proper behavior (“We don’t go into the street, okay Monkey? That’s how it works. Okay? Okay.”).

I hate to think what would have happened had I not been thinking about these things – had I not been willing to take a few extra minutes {and it really was 3 or 4 minutes, max} and insisted on getting Eleanor into the bathroom on my schedule. I would not have borne witness to my daughter illustrating, with words and images, the routine on which we were about to embark. It was magical; and to think, I could have missed it.

(Eleanor’s first [self-identified] self portrait, since she erased her chalk drawings before I could capture them on film.)


12 thoughts on “and to think…I could have missed this

  1. Shocking to think how many moments like these we miss in our rush! And the magical moments we see when we slow down enough to really pay attention and get a glimpse into our child’s heart. Lovely story. xo


    1. Yes, Leslie, it’s true. There are probably many of these that are missed- which is why it’s so important to recognize the ones that you don’t. Because they are precious.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts,


    1. Amy,Thank you for visiting; and for the work you do (your website is wonderful). Sometimes it feels like swimming upstream- to slow down, take time, stop rushing, let the moment unfold rather than trying to make something else happen- because live moves SO quickly these days. But, if and when you can pause a beat longer (with your kids, your partner, or just yourself) there are wonderful experiences to be had.


    1. Alex- Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It’s especially nice to see another dad here, because aside from my own (dad, I mean) and my daughter’s (aka. my husband), I think only one other man has commented; so you bring my total to 4!
      PS- Your family’s blog is pretty remarkable!


  2. I take a lot of flack from people around us about being a gentle parent, but truly, it’s moments like this that make me so, so proud.
    Good job Mama.


  3. mudpiepiemama and J Guest- thank you for your kind words of support and encouragement. It’s so nice to meet like-minded parents, and from all over the globe! I hope to see you again!


  4. Hi did I miss this, Kiyah??? It’s beautiful! Thank you so much for mentioning my articles…and for being the amazingly wonderful mom you are! x Janet


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s