It’s 10:46 pm and my middle child and I are passing notes to each other.
I feel like I am being bad, like I am breaking the rules of parenting…
He casually walks into the study where I am working on the computer, pretends I am not here, and leaves a note on my keyboard.
I pretend surprise as I pick it up, to the sound of his thudding feet as he runs back to bed.
I read it, then write a note in return. I creep into his bedroom, careful not to wake up his sleeping brother, and casually drop a note onto the foot of his bed. He scrambles in the dark, grabs the note and I hear his torch click on as I creep out of the room.
This has been going on for a while…
He really should be asleep.
He should have been asleep hours ago, but he can’t settle.
He keeps coming in and out. He wants a drink, he needs a hug, he forgot to have some ventolin, he doesn’t feel well…
At first I was frustrated (seriously child… just go to bed, I have things to do and I need a break!), but when I received the first note…
Dear Mum, I feel a lot better, love Morgan
I stuffed my frustrations down and I read the note again… and I noticed things I didn’t the first time around.
I noticed the carefully formed letters, something he has struggled with for so long.
I noticed the self correction – the correct use of upper and lowercase.
I noticed that he still writes the ‘g’ in his name backwards.
It makes me stop, it makes me try to look past the excuses and read in his funny little note the need for something more… the need for connection.
So I wrote him note back.
And he wrote me one.
And I wrote one back.
The notes don’t say much…
Dear Morgan, I’m glad you are feeling better, love Mum.
Dear Mum, I love you. Love Morgan.
Dear Morgan, I love you too, love Mum.
Dear Mum, minecraft is the best, love Morgan.
Dear Morgan, minecraft is cool, love Mum.
Dear Mum, thanks for making my best dinner, love Morgan.
Dear Morgan, you’re welcome, I love tacos too, love Mum.
I wait for another reply… but there isn’t one.
I creep into his room and climb halfway up the ladder to tuck him in to the top bunk, and make sure he is ok.
He is almost asleep and he mumbles… “Thanks Mum,that was fun.”
I smile as I leave his room for the last time tonight. It was fun, breaking the ‘rules’ was fun.
Sure, he should have been asleep hours ago, but there was probably not much I could have done to wangle that tonight. But I know I definitely would have made things worse had I not kept my frustrations in check… and I would have missed an opportunity to connect with him had I never broken the rules, had I never written back.
I chalk up a win to better parenting tonight as I head to my own bed… and win for myself, because writing notes was fun, it was actually just what I needed to feel connected and worthwhile and loved… and then I wonder who has been parenting who.
Have you ever ‘broken the rules of parenting’?