Safari Boots is not used to sharing his big brother at all, much less with a boy who holds the glamour of nine whole years of life experience, and a remote control car.
But he has had to make the adjustment. There is a little boy next door, two years older than Encyclopedia Boots. And suddenly, everything is about Felix. Felix is my best friend after my brother. Felix says I am his best friend, too. I can see Felix out the window. Can Felix come over to play in the backyard? Felix has a remote control car. Felix, Felix, Felix.
I had a talk with Encyclopedia about how his brother is the most important friend he has, since he will be in his life forever. If I find that he and Felix aren’t getting along nicely with Safari, Felix will have to go home, while Encyclopedia learns to appreciate his brother. And Encyclopedia seems to be doing a pretty good job of including Safari.
This is a whole new world for me. Encyclopedia has had friends before, but they were mostly playdates arranged because I was friends with the child’s mother. This is the first friend who hasn’t been handpicked, and although Felix seems like a nice boy, he represents something of a loss of control on my part — a letting go of sorts.
Today, I ushered the children outside. “I don’t want you playing in the basement until I’m unpacked,” I told them. “Everybody into the backyard.” I saw Encyclopedia looking from me to Felix to see how my stance was being interpreted by his friend. It was like he was seeing me through the eyes of his friend, looking at me for the first time with a certain impartiality of gaze.
What would Felix think of Mama? Would he be offended by being thus ushered out of the house? Encyclopedia felt the need to explain me to his friend: “It’s just because we’re not unpacked yet. Mama doesn’t want a big mess when she’s still unpacking boxes and doesn’t know where everything goes.” His friend shrugged agreeably, and they headed outside.
It was a nothing-moment, one I could have so easily missed, had I not seen that look in Encyclopedia’s face. And yet it was so significant. Up to now, Farmer Boots and I have had almost 100% control over his impressions of us and the world. Today marked a shift. We’re down to 90%. His peer relationships can have some impact on his impressions of the world — and on his impressions of me.
Somebody, I can’t remember who, said that parenting is about learning to let go. I guess my little boy is leaving the baby stage and entering into the next stage of childhood — one which I have reduced power to shape for him.
God grant me wisdom in learning how to let go, and how much, and when and how to hold on. God grant me wisdom and peace in guiding this precious little soul, and indeed, all of the precious little souls in my care.