“You’re NEVER
having juice again!!!!” 
Say what???!!! Did I just say that out loud??? How idiotic a statement is that? And this to
the angel child, the child who repeatedly admonishes his sister to “ask Ima,” the
child who is distressed when I forget to brush his teeth in the morning, the
child who cowers in the back-seat when I do an illegal U-turn; the child with
whom a disciplinary talk will cover the “rules aren’t always to be followed” terrain.
Meanwhile little sister pipes in sweetly (devilishly!) as she flashes her impish smile, “but
I didn’t spill juice”, and caps the experience moments later — in her
sing-songy na-nee-nee-na-na voice,
and her uncanny embodiment of the un-translatable word davka (just to spite is
the closest I’ve got) — “I have juuice and you-u-u dooon’t.”
As tears
formed in Sebastian’s eyes, remorse settled in mine, and it dawned on me that I
have the emotional intelligence of a two year old. But did I mention that this
was the third spill that morning?
I subsequently insisted repeatedly that I’m not really mad, really I’m not, and showered my
poor boy with kisses, but whom was I kidding, my anger had gotten the worst of
me, and my child, any child, is no fool. He maintained: “you are mad.”
Later, it
seemed, Sebastian had moved on. But I hadn’t. Something bristly remained
lodged, itching me throughout the day. It took me awhile perhaps but I realized
what needed to be done: an apology, plain
and simple
. And I set to formulating and rehearsing, elaborate and complicated. I caught up to him while walking to the
car through an idyllic field following a community picnic event, and as we
passed a patch of sunflowers and the foliage caught the gleams of the late
evening sun, I started: I want to talk to
you about something. Remember earlier this morning, when…
listened and as I continued to develop my sophisticated explanation, I noticed
that he’d moved on to something else. I don’t even remember what it was: a dog,
a playground, a bicycle, a sunflower. Point is he’d gotten the point. And I
didn’t need to harp on it. Because the world is full of marvels, and sadness
(or anger) will only serve you for so long.
Six seconds to
be exact, according to emotional intelligence experts. Nowadays, when I am
seized by my emotions, I ask Sebastian to help me breathe. He has a good laugh
at my expense and we both slow down.
Mindful of the
value of slowing down, I agreed to let him finish his drawing the other day, before
leaving the house for an impending appointment. But the clock was ticking and
as he finished coloring and began writing the letters S E B (we had to give him a 9 letter name didn’t we) and ‘A’ didn’t follow the ‘B’, I was flung into anxiety
mode, tapping my feet edgily and wondering what the hell, besides his name, needed
to be written right at this moment. And then I saw the letters unfold: SEB TO
IMA (He never writes his name SEB; when he has the time), and the pinch in my
heart swelled. When it comes to parenting, the learning curve is high.
It’s a good
thing the lessons are frequent, and laden.
Liliana sat on my lap as I applied ointment to the gash near her eye, and
Sebastian sat on Lance’s lap while getting his nails cut. Can’t get much more
mundane than that. Suddenly Liliana exclaims: “this is fun!” And we all agreed.
We were together. Slowing down. Cozied up. Staring at the paintings on our wall
as if watching a movie: an unhurried motion picture.
A few weeks
ago, we went to Whistler. It was a cold and rainy couple days in late May. Sitting
outside bundled and sopping, eating a beavertail, Sebastian pronounced
deliberately: “this is the best day of my whole life”. And we all paused for a
moment — and swiftly joined in – “me too” — as if a spontaneous prompt had
been set. Sebastian’s words had liberated a feel-good mist.
A week later,
at a play-date picnic, another “best day ever” pronouncement was declared; and again,
more recently, at an outdoor carnival. 
We’ve decided to make a “best day ever”
list. Sebastian is numbering it to 62. It’s nice to be reminded of simple
pleasures. And to know that joy doesn’t run out. It runs in; and spills over. You just need to slow down to catch the spills. And let them trickle.