I’m not a control freak. But sometimes as a mom, I have an ideal of how I want something to play out. This past Mother’s Day, my 3-year-old son and I planned to stroll in the annual Make Way for Ducklings Parade. I imagined that he would wear a hand-made duck costume with bright yellow duck wings. That was my vision. This was the reality.
As the parade approached, I bought $15 worth of costume supplies at a craft store which did not have anything all that ducky. My favorite purchase was a bag of cardboard butterfly wings and a bottle of yellow paint.
I set the wings and the yellow paint on Simon’s play table in the family room.
Simon stared at the wings and announced, “Mom, I want blue duck wings, not yellow.”
“Ducklings have yellow wings.”
“Blue wings,” he said.
I was disappointed. Then I mentally kicked myself. Was I becoming an over-controlling parent who had to do everything her way? I thought of what I had learned as an education reporter when I researched the best way to find a preschool. The best preschools, experts said, don’t produce cookie-cutter art projects. Good teachers let each child’s style blossom. Good parents, I reminded myself, have to do the same.
Sitting side by side in toddler chairs, I painted one wing blue while he painted the other. Paint got on his hands, his arms, and nose. He looked over at me and giggled. We finished, and he asked to put on the wings.
“Let’s wait for the paint to dry,” I said.
He tried on the yellow T-shirt, yellow visor, and yellow flip-flops I also bought at the craft store and marched around the family room. “Quack, quack. Quack, quack.”
On Mother’s Day, we packed a picnic and the costumes and went to the Boston Common for our duckling adventure. Babies and toddlers wore body-length store-bought yellow duckling costumes. My little duckling was a bit of an odd duck. He wore his yellow T-shirt and flip-flops with grey and yellow pants.
By the time the parade started around noon, he was too tired to march. Minutes after they were put on, the wings came off so Simon could sit in the stroller. The main event was the anti-climax.
Sure, we had fun on Mother’s Day. But the most fun was sitting side by side in our family room and learning just how wonderful the world can be when we paint duck wings blue.
Read about how Linda is tired of people thinking that she’s her son’s grandmother.