Today, Owen had a playdate with his friend Evan. Evan's mother, Dottie, is a natural with children. She understands them, and in return, they love her. I think the door was barely closed before Owen was nestled in her lap, happily playing playdough. She answered his questions with interest and dignity, as if she was having an in-depth discussion with Nelson Mandela instead of an almost three-year old wearing Lightening McQueen sneakers.
It made me think about how grateful I am to have other people in my life that give Owen the attention he needs. All too often, Owen gets attention when he is smearing food on the table or "playing" with Joel so vigorously that I am forced to intervene. As I write this, Owen is upstairs, loudly protesting his naptime, tearfully yelling, "I want MORE toys, I want MOOREEEEEEEEE TOOOOOYS!" After all, besides the train table, full bookcase, thirty stuffed animals, and overflowing toybox, he has nothing to play with up there. It's an avoidance tactic, but it's also an attempt, by whatever means necessary, to get my attention.
It's not as if I spend all my time on the computer, lulling him into submission with a steady loop of Diego and Backyardigans. I confess, there are occasional days like this, but truly, truly, they are the exception to the rule. We do cool stuff. Today we read stories, did puzzles, drew coffeemakers on the easel (I just do what I'm told), and talked about important things, like flying squirrels and fishing poles.
Yet, all too often, I'm doing this with half of my attention, while I am cooing at his brother, or changing a diaper, or loading the dishwasher, or thinking about the class I'm teaching tonight, or writing my name in the dust on my kitchen floor.
Owen needs to learn that he doesn't get 100% of my attention all of the time; that's part of being a family. However, he is almost three--still very young, still very much needing his mommy. I'm trying, therefore, to set aside time---focused, one-on-one time---with my boy. No phones, no brother, no laundry, and most importantly, with my mind focused on him.
I can't expect others to pick up my slack all the time. While I'm grateful for the kindness of others, the buck stops here.