Brody is Brynna’s best buddy. He doesn’t care if she makes him call her princess. He runs the same speed she does – fast. everywhere. always. He is perfectly content to play Spiderman Bad Guys right next to her dancing like a fairy. He lets her be her and she does the same. And somehow even though they don’t love the same things, they love to do them side-by-side. So when it was time to find activities for the fall, it made sense that they’d do some of them together. Brody wasn’t so interested in joining BG for ballet, but tennis and gymnastics were right up his alley. So on Wednesdays and Fridays (and usually other days as well), we hang out with Brody, his dad Jason and his little sister McKenna.
As much as I love to watch people, this new addition to our schedule has been fascinating. I get to watch up-close how little boys and girls are so very different (you know…without having to clean pee off my bathroom floor every other day). I also get to remember how cute baby girls can be (you know…without having to change diapers). And McKenna even lets me snuggle her sometimes – something BG was NEVER interested in doing. She had too much else on her plate. Most fun, though, is that I get to see how moms, dads and kids see the same object through totally different eyes.
A plastic bag – Mom sees this as a choking hazard and removes at all costs. Child sees this as a fun toy to put on one’s head. Dad, while acknowledging that it’s not the most safe thing to play with, lets child play with it for a few minutes before jokingly removing it.
A straw wrapper – Mom sees this as trash to be disposed of. Child sees this as another fun toy and one to be tasted until pieces are stuck to her face like spit wads in 3rd grade. Dad thinks the spit wads are funny and laughs with child while cleaning her face.
Ottoman – Mom sees this as an expensive piece of furniture she painstakingly chose and purchased to complete the decor of the room she designed. Child sees this as a trampoline springboard. Dad sees potential in the child’s ability so encourages her to jump only one more time to try and perfect the spin move before he enforces the No Jumping on the Furniture rule.
Wet wood chips – Mom sees this as a dirty floor at the playground to be avoided if possible. Child sees this as a plethora of fun toys to be tasted, crawled on, rolled in, stacked like a castle and sat on during hide-and-seek. Dad sees this as a chance to experience a new thing and acknowledges as he sets the child down that “we’ll just give you a bath when we get home.”
Maybe all moms, dads and kids don’t fall into these strict categories. But generally speaking, this is how we see the world. I saw the moms at gymnastics the day Jason let McKenna play with the plastic bag after she finished her Cheerios. I know what was going through their minds. “That’s dangerous. He shouldn’t let her play with that.” There was nothing dangerous about him playing WITH her, though. There was nothing that would harm her about a little paper straw wrapper or some dirty clothes after crawling through the wet wood chips at the park. She experienced her world and she did so all the while knowing her daddy was there to make sure no harm came to her. That’s a far better lesson to learn than staying clean.
Maybe we could all use a lesson from Brody and Jason. Maybe we don’t have to love what they do but teach them to love doing it side-by-side. Maybe Dad doesn’t need so many lessons from Mom. Maybe Mom needs to sit back and learn…
And a sidenote: the ottoman happens at our house, not Brody’s. (Well, maybe Brody’s too…that wouldn’t surprise me.) And while I still contend that we don’t jump on furniture, there’s something special about when Brynna fearlessly faces a new challenge and when it doesn’t work out perfect the first time, I hear her say, “It’s ok. Daddy will help me.” How different would your life be if that was your response to each day? If it didn’t matter how dirty or proper you were as long as you knew your Daddy was there to make sure you were ok? Brynna and McKenna will be strong, confident young women because of what their mommies lovingly teach them. But they will be independent, courageous young women because their daddies have given them a safe space to be free.