As Caleb scoots around the kitchen, methodically removing all of the tupperware from the cupboard that I methodically matched up and neatly stacked, I follow directly behind. He makes messes and I trail in his wake, cleaning them up the moment he makes them. His waves crash, and I push back, swimming to shore, refusing to wade in the waters, refusing to ride through the waves. As I refuse, as I nearly almost do, a well known line pops into the forefront of my mind: “let them be little.”
The way my mind works, full of anxiety, full of a sometimes frantic need to compartmentalize and organize, often makes it difficult for me to let Caleb be little. It often makes it hard for me to just let Caleb… be.
I stuff toys away in his toy box after he goes to sleep. I turn the TV way down when his cartoons are on so I can concentrate on whatever else I deem needs concentrating on at that moment. I hastily put puzzle pieces on the puzzles they belong to, and sort his books by size after they’ve sat in “already read” stacks on the floor.
Then that darn song pops into my head again. That need for me to just let him be little!
I need to let him make messes.
I need to let him make mistakes.
I need to let him smear black Oreo crumbs on his face and in his hair, and I just need to laugh.
I need to let him march to his own drum in music class as he scoots around the room, swaying and laughing while most everyone else follows along with Miss Mary.
I need to let him run and sometimes fall, and only pick him back up when he can’t do it himself.
I need to let him learn lessons, and some even the hard way because someday I won’t be there to show him the easy way.
I need to just let him while I learn to let go.
Let go of the little things. The little messes that can be cleaned up later. The Oreo smears that can be washed when he’s done and not a minute sooner. I need to play bongo drums on tupperware containers instead of hastily shoving them back in the cupboard where I thought that they belonged. I need to ride the waves and swim along instead of being scared that I’ll go under, drowning in the chaos that is Caleb and his crazy toddler mind.
Yes, Caleb has lessons to learn, but I’m starting to realize: I have lessons to learn, too.