Most major companies who employ a Research and Development team also employ a team of Test Lab Engineers whose job it is to push the products to their limits to test their strength and endurance. This helps establish product longevity and warranties. Life with a 2 year old is like being a product in a test lab and Jack is the engineer testing all of our strength and endurance.
Most days life is as idyllic and sweet as this picture would have you believe.
But sometimes he is a mad scientist testing every fiber of our being.
Energy explodes from him like a rocket and if you're in the path of a rocket, you have no choice but to move aside or be blasted into space. So we do what any parent of a 2 year old can do. We love that kid like crazy and we show him every day what it looks like to be loving and kind to people while making sure he knows that flying fists of fury have no place in a civilized society. He doesn't quite get that yet, but I can always tell that he is sad when he feels he's disappointed us.
A few nights ago after a rough day at daycare when our little rocket exploded over everyone in his path we sat him on the couch in between us with a huge pile of books and we read to him and stroked his hair. He wanted to watch a movie- Cars to be exact- and we said no. Not because the voice of Larry the Cable Guy sends me into a rage, although it really kinda does. We said no because eventually, over time, he'll need to learn that actions have consequences. And in whatever small way we can, we're showing him that. He stomped and threw things on the floor crying out "Cars! McQueen!"
And so began our night in the test lab. But after a few moments of frustration, he climbed on the couch next to us, smooshed in between us buried in books. We read to him and kissed him, ate dinner all together, gave him a bath, read more books upstairs at bedtime together and I sang the "Choo Choo" song to him. It was a most pleasant and calm evening.
So of course my working mother guilt tells me that I should be spending more time with him and like all other working moms I know I do my very best every day. And I also know that whether I stayed home with him every day or kept him in daycare, he'd still be 2, he'd still be a little rocket. And no matter what he does, I could not love him any more than I do.
There is this wonderful moment that happens at the most unexpected times when Jack comes up to me, climbs up on my lap and hugs me ferociously. And in the test lab of our lives, I see him as the little engineer who is building his parents, testing their strength and endurance and ultimately pleased with how we're turning out.
In that hug, I imagine that this is what he's thinking:
I test you every day and you do not break.
You never give up on me no matter how hard I push you.
Thank you for hanging in there with me.
Thank you for not giving up on me.
You are my best creation.