Our 4-year-old's day care has set days for show and tell, bring a book day and share a toy day. These are fantastic.
However, that means I have to remember which day it is, he is just four after all. Let's
face it, third child. Between older brother and sister's sports schedules, late start days, early morning practices or running groups, my own work, volunteer stuff and meal planning, I've just got a few other things on the calendar each day. Admission to a parent fail, I rarely remember that he has these special days each week.
The other day when I dropped my little guy off at daycare he reminded me it was show and tell day. At his cubby, already inside his classroom, that's precisely when he remembered. So, I started rummaging through his coat pockets, and my own. Considering we had recently been to a pizza place with games, I assumed there just had to be a bouncy ball or unused tattoo or some other costly gem he could present.
Yet, nothing. He begged me to go home and get a toy, which was NOT going to happen.
Now, let's pause the story for a moment so I can explain that regardless of what my husband would say, I really don't like to "baby" my kids. If they forget their shoes at home? Too bad, so sad. If their favorite flavor of ice cream is out? You get what you get and you don't throw a fit. When we were unprepared for show and tell, my initial reaction was to explain to him that we forgot, and he has to try hard to help me remember next week. However, this kid of ours is a little on the shy side when it comes to having attention. If it's his turn to speak outside the comfort of our home, he sinks into his turtle shell and we have to gently coax him out. So, show and tell is important for him as the exercise forces him to stand in front of his teachers and peers and talk about his treasured item.
Alright then, back to the story.
On that particular day, I did the unthinkable. I went back out to my car, in the cold and snow, to find something for him to "show and tell." Luckily the day before we had gone out for lunch and he had received a sticker pack with his kid's meal. "Perfect," I thought. So, I ran the stickers back inside with his teachers proclaiming, "Mom saved the day!" Before I left my son gave me a hard neck squeeze, an extra "I love you" and I was on my way.
As I headed to work I went through the scenario in my mind, convinced I had made the right move. As a mom we often overthink things way too much, and I've mastered that in my mom years. I pictured my son, standing up in front of the other kids and proudly describing his stickers, learning how to speak in front of others, confidence in his words, feeling worthy of the positive attention. I told you I overthink.
Later that day when I picked up my son, I asked him if he had fun with show and tell. Instead of what I expected to hear, you know, the future TedX speaker coming out of his shell, he told me that he didn't get to talk about his stickers during show and tell.
Gasp. My thoughts went back to that morning trudging back out into the cold, digging through the car, spending the extra minutes just to find something appropriate, and he didn't even get to do show and tell? Was it all for naught?
I was hoping there was a good reason coming. I asked, "Why didn't you get to share your stickers during show and tell?" His response went something like, "Wel, during lunch line I didn't follow the rules, so then I didn't get to do show and tell."
Sigh, 4-year olds.
My son continued, "But I was a good listener the rest of the day mom! And I didn't hit my friends or even take their toys." My snarky inner voice replied, "Well, give the kid a cookie."
I'm grateful his teachers made the choice to take away his show and tell privilege for not following the rules. And this was a good reminder for me that often, especially for us overthinkers, we put way too much mental energy into our kids' daily activities.
Seeing the thoughts roll through my head my preschooler responded, "Don't worry Mom, I can try again next week."
Yeah, right. I suppose I could add it to my calendar, but instead I just put a bouncy ball in
my coat pocket.