Last weekend the doll and I were in Dayton, OH attending a family wedding shower for one of my hubby’s cousins. His aunt Marile, who lives in Virginia, approached and asked how the kids were doing. Employing party banter language, I replied, “They’re doing great!”She looked back at me and said, “That’s great. I just remember the High School years as moving at blink-of-a-eye speed. I wanted to memorize every little detail, but there was never enough time”. I smiled in return and agreed. Time was flying by, but I didn’t waver from my party banter style language.
However, she started me thinking.
I make such a big deal out of the boy’s grades, one might think that is all I care about. I sometimes wonder if I’m being too hard him, in contrast to my own poor grades in high school. I wasn’t a good student until I reached college and decided to put in the effort toward my degree. But when parents are used to seeing good grades from their children, reeling back that desire (for them to do well) is difficult to put into practice.
Then other issues pop up.
Recently, the boy asked if he could leave the carpool ride home from school. “Mom the kids in the car hate me…” He explained. “Bay, hate’s a pretty strong word for kids who’ve known you your entire life.” I explained. Every person in that car attended elementary school with him. “Mom, I don’t feel comfortable in the car” He tried again. I know I should take what he’s telling me at face value, yet I still find myself clinging to the hope that he’s reading the situation wrong. As luck would have it, his after school work study program kicked in last week which enabled his desire to leave the carpool. Now his father picks him up on his way home from work.
“Where’s your boy been lately?” My friend and carpool driver asked me last Friday. Not wanting to broach the subject I simply said, “He has work study after school and his dad will pick him up on his way home now”. “We could wait for him…” She tried. Looking back at her and loving that response–at least one person in that car liked him; I replied, “Frankly, he doesn’t want to ride home with you any longer”.
Sadly she wasn’t stunned. Instead she lowered her head and said, “I’m sorry”. “You know, my son is different than the other kids. His social skills are awkward. What’s important to him might seem funny to them. I don’t know. But what I do know is, he’s tired of being made to feel inferior”. “Do you know, is my dumb kid involved?” She asked but before I could respond, she replied, “Of course she is… damn”. “If you want, the boy is drying dishes in the kitchen for service hours right now, you can ask him”. I replied. “I want you to know I’ve told those kids to knock it off Marsha. I’ve asked them how they would feel if someone said that crap to them every day… I’ve asked them to be nice” she said. Shaking my head, I replied “Teenagers, mine included don’t understand what nice is”.
On the way to school a few days later, the boy said, “That street sign back there is set at a dutch angle”. Having no clue whether he was talking math or something else, I simply smiled and nodded at him. “See, I’m learning all sorts of cool and interesting stuff from YouTube” He added with a smirk. “A Dutch angle?” I asked. “Yes, it’s meant to show something is askew” He replied. “You thinking about shooting a movie bay?” “Eh, I have given it some thought” he replied. “The thing is, you have to be willing to go outside and experience life, in order to film life. You can’t stay holed up in your bedroom watching YouTube videos. You need to go outside…” I said and received nothing but the sound of music emanating from the car speakers.
As he exited the car I thought to myself, “Did I just criticize him again?” In ten short years he could be married and have children of his own (Dear God!). Life is moving faster than we realize and all he sees and hears is me, criticizing him. That night when I arrived home from school I approached him and together we hugged. “I love you Momma” he said. “I love you too bay” I replied and hung on until he had had enough. “Huh? What’s wrong?” He asked in clinical tone. “Nothing. I just wanted to make sure you knew I did”. He smiled and said, “Does this mean you’ll stop badgering me about my math grades?” “No. This only means I’ll keep giving you long hugs”. Smiling he replied “Okay” and then went back to what he was doing before I arrived home.
I guess what I’m getting at is my need to look at my kids and see the person they are growing into, not who I want or expect them to be. Prior to birth, their father and I dreamed who they might become. Those dreams have long since been vanquished. These beautiful beings are who God intended them to be and that should be enough for everyone, me included.