lessons from the boogie monster.
This past week gave me the rare opportunity to spend time with a toddler. It was a really affirmative and awakening experience. As I approach the end of my twenties, consideration to marriage and children has landed upon me quite startlingly considering the slight opposition I had to them in my early twenties. It wasn’t a staunch opposition; mostly, I just didn’t quite see either for myself. For years, I’d say that down the line, I saw myself with children, but didn’t know how they got there. Lately, that’s been all turned around. Being a great mother and wife are very important to me, despite my singleness. I see myself in an amazing partnership with lots of love for each other and for our child(ren). Being 28, this change of heart isn’t unheard of, even if it did surprise me.
Last week, my oldest friend, Alicia, was in town for a few days with her daughter, Gia, and husband, Gene. We made arrangements for me to babysit oneday so they both could get some work done. This is New York City and most of my friends are single and childless; I don’t babysit often. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I’ve watched a toddler by myself. Still, I was actually really excited.
I awoke Wednesday morning with a mere five or six hours of sleep, but up with a sense of duty: I need to trek it to Manhattan to babysit Gia. Because of her torso wiggle dance, they call her Boogie. I call her Boogie Monster. She doesn’t get the reference, but it still makes her laugh, which makes me laugh.
After four hours of watching Boog by myself, a friend stops by to tag team the babysitting process with me not long before Alicia and Gene return. I spent 13 hours with her before going home and sleeping for 13 hours after that. The next day when I saw Alicia and Gene, I joked that Gia was a higher human being who knew how to consume human energy, while the rest of us feeble humans needed food. Really, after that night, I gained an even greater respect for my friend who works from home and has her daughter with her most of the time. Where does she get the energy? How does she have so much on her plate and make it work?
It’s always interesting to hear why people want to have children. One common reason is to teach, which is an imperative I can understand and relate to. What’s intersting, though, is that there’s so much to learn from children. One of the biggest epiphanies I’ve had came from observing this 13-month old child reaching for any and everything. Babies don’t know what’s good for them or bad for them, and they don’t care. Really, they want what they want. When you intercept and say “no, that’s not good for you,” they cry and have tantrums. Sometimes, it’s a wail of cry from deep down. They’re really invested in what they want and how dare anyone get in the way.
Then I thought about myself. When I don’t get what I want, I may not have a physical tantrum, but I may have an emotional one. My attitude can instantly turn pissy as I experience my fit of frustration. Just like a child’s. Just like a 13-month old baby. But I’m an “adult”. Acting quite similar to a child. Maybe what I want and don’t get is something I don’t need. Or something I’m not ready for. Perhaps what I really need is something I don’t want at all.
The Boogie Monster taught me that I need to grow up and be patient. As a baby, she’s allowed a phase for tantrums, but that period for me has long since passed. To purport to believe that everything has a purpose and then to act out because I don’t get what I want is incongruent.
As much as I like to fancy the idea of children right now, those 13 hours were pivotal in letting me know how much I’d like to get done before I have to make that sort of lifetime commitment. Children are amazing and as much as possible, I really want to be ready. And mature. Having the time, money, and energy to dedicate to implementing the vision of parenting I have is now of the utmost importance. I have to grow to grow up.