Monday, October 02, 2006

Being Bothered

I had a thought this morning.

My Little Dude has a little wooden trolley filled with blocks that he plays with. At first, he just liked examining it from every possible angle. Then he liked playing with the blocks it holds, banging them together, sucking on them, handing them back and forth to us, and sometimes just toddling through the room and holding them up high above his head, as if to say "Look what I've got!" Then he liked pushing the trolley along the floor. Then he liked tipping it upside down.

And now he likes climbing onto it and me pushing him around the room in it. And when I say that he likes this activity, it would be more accurate to say that he lurves it. Epic love stories have been written and celebrated through the ages for people who feel less strongly about each other than that Little Dude feels about riding on his trolley. He is obsessed with it. When I offer him some alternative activity, he shows only a sort of polite interest, as if he is humouring me. And when I push him in that trolley, he gets an expression on his face that says with utter clarity, "This is the best experience I have ever had in my entire life! You are the best mother in the universe!" He is euphoric.

Until I stop. Then he is puzzled. Why has it stopped? Then he bounces his whole body frantically forward, trying to make it keep going. Then he looks at me expectantly to continue. And if I don't, he cries. And we are not just talking about some minor, little-guy whimpering that I can distract him from. He roars. He is outraged. Then he weeps in this really pitiful, angry way that says "I can't believe you stopped. You have betrayed me, and I will never get over it. Never, never, never!"

And even after he has calmed down, he is still a bit pissed at me. He averts his eyes from me. He doesn't want to play with me any more.

And frankly, all of this makes me a whole lot less inclined to start in the first place, even though I know how much he likes it. If I could just push him along for a few minutes, have a little fun together, and then let him off and do something else, I would do it more often. But his appetite for this activity is inexhaustible. And lately, when he climbs onto his trolley with that hopeful look in his eyes, I dither. I feel like he may be better off without these extremes of euphoria and distress. I can't decide whether to push it or not.

But when I don't, is that because its really better for him if I don't, or just because, secretly, I can't be bothered? Because its better for him or because its better for me?

Because actually, my thought sequence goes something like this:

He loves it, and I sort of enjoy it sometimes. But he wants to do it all the time, it gets a little boring for me, its a lot of effort, and I have other things I need to do. So its better not to start. Its better not to raise his expectations or I may have to spend my whole damn life pushing that damn trolley. Maybe I should just stop pushing it altogether. Then he might forget about how much he likes it.
And when he climbs onto his trolley, with that look of expectation, I think "Oh, for God's sake, we only did this yesterday!"

You know where I'm going with this this, don't you... yes, back to my favourite topic! My boy has nothing on me for obsession.

Yes, this morning when the Little Dude climbed onto his trolley and I didn't push it, I had the thought that this is probably how my Big Dude feels about having sex with me. "Oh, sure, she loves it now. But how is she going to feel when I stop? And its too much effort. This is getting a bit tiresome. I can't be bothered. Better not to start in the first place."

And then I start thinking, "Well, if you are going to be like that about it, then I can't be bothered, either."


Which is better for our relationship? Accepting that keeping open some possibilities may bring both significant pain and deep, deep joy? Or carefully lowered expectations - less suffering and less joy?

I know where I stand, today anyway. Kiss the joy as it flies.

Sure, a phase like we are in now, when he stops, is painful to me. But pain is part of life. In fact, we probably wouldn't truly know what joy feels like if we didn't have pain, or even just boredom, for a comparison. I don't want to be patted on the head and kept calm. I don't want that kind of faux consideration. Because I can't just go to work and do housework all the time. I want to have something to look forward to. I want to feel that joy. And if to experience that joy sometimes, I have to feel this pain sometimes, then so be it. Because I want to feel alive.

So, what do you think? Should I push that damned trolley this afternoon?


Blogger Satan said...

I get you, Em.. Only with us it's GameCube. SD could play this game absolutely constantly, never ever getting bored.

It's tough sometimes. Your every instinct is to say "No" but you have to fight through it and just say "Yes". Sooner or later the resentment clears (about the time you see the euphoric look on his face) and it's allll good.

"What the the world needs now, is lurrrve, sweet lurrrve . . ."

6:17 PM  
Blogger oldbear said...

Hi /emily, you should always try...sometimes you get Tofu instead, but sometimes you get "fed the meat".

hang in there Lady! OB.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Mu Ling said...

Great, great post. I wish I had something insightful to say, but I don't. You can really write, girl.

9:28 PM  
Blogger freebird said...

Maybe sometimes you've just gotta climb back in that trolley and scream and scream until you're pushed! Before you grow out of it completely.

1:49 AM  
Blogger trueself said...

No great insight here either, but I do understand your perspective. As usual, you have stated it very well.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

I couldn't help but think about my boys when I read your post. I am always accused of spoiling the boys because I indulge their obsessions. Even when I would much rather be in the house on my lap top. My autistic son would jump on his trampoline for hours but I would just sit and wait. It used to make my hubby so mad. I can't help but wonder is it better to say no sometimes?

6:33 AM  
Blogger oblivion said...

I have nothing to add to what you said. I just really enjoyed the post!!!

But I do agree with oldbear's comment. Just keep trying. Unfortunately for me .. I've pretty much quit trying.


7:26 AM  
Blogger Finished Last said...

I think we have to grab joy where and when we can and then steel ourselves against the disappointments. Having lived a majority of my life in the numbing middle ground of safe and steady I can attest that the monments of passion have made the pain of disappointment well worth it

7:52 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

I know it's not really your point, Emily, but I think it's worth pointing out that your relationship with the Little Dude is different than your relationship with the Big Dude.

You're LD's parent, so you have all manner of justifiable and proper concerns for 'is this really good for him', and 'should I really allow this degree of obsession'. With BD, your relationship is more one of equals, and you and he aren't really coming at each other from a position of 'is this really something I should allow'. There's an authority (if you will) in the one case that doesn't really apply in the other.

So, the LD might whine and try to cadge you into doing more than you might otherwise be inclined to, but - you're the mom; you can say 'no', because you're in charge. But the BD doesn't have the same kind of role in your life; you're not his child, you're his spouse, and so you're coming from much more of a position of strength to him, than what the LD is to you.

(Does that make sense? Suddenly this is becoming all convoluted)

8:45 AM  
Blogger O272 said...

Yes! Push it, shove it, strap a rocket to it! Whatever it takes, Emily!

12:51 PM  
Blogger LBP said...

Only you know the answer.
Only you know how often you're willing or able to take an answer or response that is less than what you think you deserve.
None of us can make that decision for you.
Only you know what your heart can withstand.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Quite the conundrum, but I sort of agree that your position with your son is less reciprocal than that with your hubby... He should be giving more back than your son, who is sort of a one- way relationship, and will be for a while.

6:23 PM  

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