It can be difficult to truly chart Miles’s growth (or frankly my own slow decay) when I see him (me) everyday. It usually takes some sort of isolated benchmark event to really see how much he’s matured over several months. Today, for instance, Miles returned to the dentist for another check-up. Gone was the sense of bewilderment that gradually gave way to uncertainty and, finally, a pronounced “fight or flight” response. He’s been here before. He knows what to expect. And while he still didn’t want to lie down for his cleaning (he wanted to sit upright for it), there were virtually no tears and no major cause for restraint. All in all, he did a great job.
Of course, he also knew at this point that finishing the cleaning would net him at least one sticker and a prize from the toy machine. He thought long and hard about how to spend that coin given to him by the dental tech, finally settling on one of those balloon/rubber band things folded up inside a plastic capsule. Once he had the reward in-hand, he plopped it down into his goodie (toothbrush, floss) bag. “I’m going to save it for after school,” he said resolutely.
And he certainly remembered that plan. When he walked in the door this evening, he immediately asked Jaclyn to blow up the balloon and fasten the rubber band accordingly. She obliged, then came upstairs just as I was finishing my workday. Not ten seconds after that we heard a loud “BANG!” followed about three seconds later by the deafening wail of a three-year-old.
We both rushed to the staircase to find Miles standing there at the bottom, “I POPPED IT!!!” he cried, tears streaming down his face.
I could sympathize. Miles was learning about another one of life’s inevitabilities. This wasn’t about a balloon; it was about a PRIZE, a GOAL, and ANTICIPATION, then seeing all three of those completely snuffed out in a second. Was it about something trivial? Well that’s a matter of perspective.
We both rushed to him and lifted him up, letting him get the tears out. Once he had calmed a little bit, I said, “Hey, I have an idea.”
“What?” Miles whimpered, rubbing his eyes.
“Well, the important thing is the big rubber band, and that’s still okay. Do you think we could find another balloon to use?”
Miles’s face lit up. “Yeah, we could use another balloon,” he said. The tears evaporated and we spent the next several minutes hunting around the house to see if we had balloons (we didn’t), followed by a promise that I would go out and get some.
“Can you do that tomorrow?” Miles asked. “Because right now I want to watch Paw Patrol and listen to Teen Titans music.”
“At the same time?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied. “Put Paw Patrol on the tv and Teen Titans on Aleska.”
SIGH…whatever helps the grieving process, kid.