Learn how to throw a footballor how to use a hockey stick, or read music, or draw panda bears (or in my case alpacas), or the names of different train engines, or learn to speak Elvish, or recognize the difference between Gryffindor and Slytherin, or the lyrics to his favorite song. Be in his life, not as an observer but as an active participant.
Go outside with himturn off the television, unplug the video games, put your cellphone on the charger, even put your camera away. Just go outside and follow him around. Watch his face, explore his world, and let him ask questions. It's like magic.
Let him loseLosing sucks. Everybody isn't always a winner. Even if you want to say, "You're a winner because you tried," don't. He doesn't feel like a winner, he feels sad and disappointed. And that's a good thing, because sometimes life is difficult, no matter how hard (as moms) we try to make it the best it can be for our kids.
This practice will do him good later when he loses again (and again, and again, and again, and again...).
Instead make sure he understands that sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. But that doesn't mean you ever give up.
Give him opportunities to help othersThere is a big difference in giving someone the opportunity to help and forcing someone to help. Giving the opportunity lights a flame in the heart, and once the help is done the flame shines brighter and asks for more opportunities.
Be an example of helping others in your own actions and the way your family helps each other and helps others together.
Remind him that practice makes perfectThis doesn't just apply to performance-based activities (like sports and music) but also applies to everything in life.
You become a better writer by writing. You become a better listener by listening. You become better speaker by speaking. Show your son this when he is just young enough to understand (that means from birth, folks — they are making sense of the world as soon as they arrive), practice trick-or-treating at your own front door before the real thing. Practice how you will walk through airport security before a trip. Practice how you order your own food from the fast food cashier. Practice, practice, practice.
Answer him when he asks, "Why?"Answer him, or search for the answer together. Show him the places to look for the answers (like his dad, or grandparents, or his aunts/uncles, or his books, or valid Internet searches). Pose the question to him so he can begin thinking about answers himself.
Someday, when he needs to ask questions he's too embarrassed to ask you, he'll know where to go to find the right answers.
Always carry Band-Aids and wipes on youespecially the wipes.
Let his dad teach him how to do things... without interrupting about how to do it the "right way."
If you let his dad show and teach and discover with your son while he is growing up, some day down the road (after a short period of your son believing his dad knows nothing), he will come to the realization that his dad knows everything.
You will always be his mother, but in his grown-up man heart and mind, his dad will know the answers. And this will be how, when your son is too busy with life to call and chat with his mom, you will stay connected to what is happening in his life. Because he will call his dad for answers, and his dad will secretly come and ask you.
Give him something to release his energydrums, a pen, a punching bag, wide open space, water, a dog. Give him something to go crazy with — or he will use your stuff, and then you'll be sorry.
Build him fortsForts have the ability to make everyday normal stuff into magic. Throw the couch cushions, a couple blankets, and some clothespins and you can transform your living room into the cave of wonders.
For the rest of his life, he'll be grateful to know that everyday normal stuff has the potential to be magical.
Take him to new placesBecause it will make his brain and his heart open up wider, and the ideas and questions and memories will rush in.
Kiss himAny mother of sons will tell you that little boys are so loving and sweet.
They can be harsh and wild and destructive during most of the day. But there are these moments when they are so kind and sensitive and tender. So much so that it can cause you to look around at the inward, reserved grown men in your life and think, "What happens in between that made you lose that?"
Let's try to stop the cycle by kissing them when they're loving and kissing them even more when they're wild. Kissing them when they're 2 months and kissing them when they're 16 years old.
You're the mom — you can go ahead and kiss him no matter how big he gets — and make sure he knows it.
P.S. - This one is just as important for dads, too.
Be home baseYou are home to him. When he learns to walk, he will wobble a few feet away from you and then come back, then wobble away a little farther and then come back.
When he tries something new, he will look for your proud smile.
When he learns to read, he will repeat the same book to you 20 times in a row because you're the only one who will listen that many times.
When he plays his sport, he will search for your face in the stands.
When he is sick, he will call you.
When he really messes up, he will call you.
When he is grown and strong and tough and big and he feels like crying, he will come to you — because a man can cry in front of his mother without feeling self-conscious.
Even when he grows up and has a new woman in his life and gets a new home, you are still his mother: home base, the ever constant, like the sun. Know that in your heart, and everything else will fall into place.