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Category Archives: The Next Generation
I did something last night that I don’t do nearly as often as I should. I played with my daughter. Before anyone gets worked up about that statement, let me clarify. I do play with her often. I do spend time with her and love on her and talk to her every day. I do all the stereotypical “good mommy” things.
This time, however, we really played. We played her games, her way, in her timing. We sat together on the couch, facing each other as she curled up in my lap. No television. No radio. No phone or computer. No distractions. No agenda. No time limit.
We played “grab my nose”, tickle time, and complicated versions of patty cake. We played “Rock, Paper, Scissors” followed by a new version titled “Fire, Water, Paper” (it was interesting). We sang songs, both existing and original. We laughed until we both had tears in our eyes and our bellies ached. We wiggled every tooth in her mouth individually and pondered which ones were loose, which one might fall out first, and the risk versus reward of trying to catch the Tooth Fairy in the act.
We had a long discussion on the merits of staying little instead of growing up. She was quite patient with me as she explained that she can’t stay in Kindergarten forever, even though I asked her to. She has to grow up and lose her teeth and grow big ones like mine.
She had me in stitches with her impressions of “mean girls” from the movies. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen this kid cock her hip to the side, snap her fingers overhead and say, “Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen.” I nearly wet my pants. And I literally could not catch my breath through my laughter as she switched into an English accent for the next five minutes of all our dialogue. This was followed by a conversation almost entirely comprised of spontaneous song lyrics in the place of speech.
I love this child beyond description.
She’s funny and interesting and creative. Her thought process fascinates and entertains me in equal parts. She’s growing so fast, and throughout the evening, I kept catching glimpses of her in years to come through her movements and expressions and tone. It was beautiful. And terrifying.
She’s graduating from Kindergarten today. In a few minutes, I’ll wake her up and start this very special day in her life. I’ll feed her breakfast and help her put on the new dress we picked out together. I’ll listen to her tell me all about how excited she is, and how she’s nervous because so many people will be staring at her as she crosses the stage. I’ll nod as she reminds me to leave her hair down so her graduation cap stays on.
On the drive to school, I’ll have the image in my head of her “rehearsal” last night. Of how she walked me through every step of the ceremony, complete with barstool stand-ins of the principal and assistant principal. Of her smile when I announced her name so she could practice walking out and shaking hands with the “administrators”. Of her stern admonishment to hold my applause until after the whole class was done, and her giggles when I asked if I could bring a cow bell.
I’ll sit with my husband, boys, and family members with nervous anticipation in a cafeteria full of others doing the same. I’ll juggle cameras and kleenex, trying not to drop either.
I’ll wave my arm in a manic frenzy when she walks in, and wait for her face to light up when she sees us. I’ll clap and cheer and cry more tears than I care to count.
And when it’s over, when the smiles and hugs and pictures are complete, I won’t have a Kindergartner anymore.
So, I’ll cry more tears.
Because this is all at once a small thing, and a big one. Because she’s my baby, and she’s not a baby anymore. Because her transitions and graduations only get bigger from here on. Because the years are flying by at increasing speeds, and as much as I want them to, they just won’t slow down.
Because the night before her next graduation she’ll be too big to sit in my lap, and it will be here way before I’m ready.
I’m grateful it’s not here, yet. I’m grateful there are still plenty of opportunities for cuddles, kisses, and make-believe. For games, songs, laughter, and accents. For sitting in laps and memory building. For writing new chapters and growing along the way.
I am determined to soak up and store as much as I can, with all of my children, over the next years and seasons. To slow myself down, even if I can’t decrease the fast march of time. To cherish all the moments, big or small, special or mundane, celebrated or not….even the ones that break my heart. They are all part of our story, and it’s my favorite one of all.
We can always add accents or theme music along the way.
Come on, now, friends. Finish that one with me. In unison, everybody!
When it rains, it pours!
It’s been a bit of a rainy season around here. First, let me say, thank you so much for your patience! It’s been a long three and a half weeks of waiting and wading through all the issues that come with a site crash and attempted retrieval/repairs. Those of you who’ve been tuned in for a while know how much technology and I don’t get along, so I won’t belabor the point. Let’s just say, this incident has done nothing to repair that rocky relationship. We’ll leave it at that.
I had all kinds of plans for a profound and amazing post to re-launch a season of fabulous and funny blogs….and then the rains came. We got pounded here in sweet little New Braunfels and the surrounding areas….as tends to happen. This time, to add to the fun, a tornado showed up as well. Schools closed. Roads were blocked. The river rose and flooded, causing damage and flashbacks. All plans and events were cancelled. Chaos ensued.
Naturally, any hope of accomplishing anything outside of chasing and/or entertaining kids and river watch/clean-up was squashed over the week’s end. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a crisis. We were lucky this time, and did not sustain damage to the actual river house itself (water stopped a mere eight steps from the front door – how’s that for a close call?). Our neighbors didn’t get to dodge that bullet, even though the river returned to its banks relatively quickly.
We have wonderful friends who showed up to check water levels and help clear debris, and many others who called or texted to check in and offer to help. Bless them all. It makes such a difference, and we are well aware that being loved like this is an amazing thing.
It definitely switched my focus to being grateful instead of frustrated.
Once we got everything cleared away and relatively organized, things started flowing (no pun intended) in the right direction. Weather cleared so that Halloween plans could go through. Gregg took Drew and headed to West Texas for their hunting excursion. Luke got prepped and set for his night of middle school shenanigans. I helped Emry get ready, and the Pink Power Ranger and I were ready to party. We left for fun with friends, dragging teenage boys in tow with promises to feed them and then drop them off at their party (I may have had a few small heart palpitations, since this was my first run at not helping chaperone). They were even good sports about posing for a picture or two.
Despite all the craziness, running around, and managing of kids at multiple locations (one of which took forever to get to due to residual road closures and flooding, yet we did prevail…parties stop for no man around here), things were going relatively smoothly. At least, until it was time for Pinkie and I to head out to get the boys. As I said my goodbyes, she walked around the couch to get her candy, or say her farewells, or whatever she needed to do in that moment. Suddenly, there was a chorus of, “Emry’s bleeding!”
She came walking towards me, blood running down her head and all over her hands, tears pouring down her sweet face. For the love…. We’re still not sure exactly what happened. She wasn’t running. She didn’t fall. There was no wrestling or rough-housing, and not another child near her. She said she just sat down and leaned forward, hitting her head on the coffee table.
And busted the skin above her eyebrow open to the bone.
It was so random. Sadly, after my initial shock, I remembered that I was probably due an incident of this proportion given that my husband was out of town, and we all know how that goes around here. Off to the ER we went, with Emry lamenting that she “wished I never sat down.” I guess her take-home lesson interpretation is to never stop moving…
Kudos to a wonderful staff. From check-in to nurses to the doctor who ultimately sewed her up, everyone was so kind and patient and gentle with her. She was a trooper, not a tear was shed once we got there, and her primary concern was the color of the stitches (she was quite adamant that she needed white, we compromised with blue). We texted Daddy and big brother pictures of the procedure (I’ll spare you those), and ended up with four stitches above her eyebrow.
The rest of the weekend we laid really low. Both mama and daughter were exhausted, and frankly, I don’t know that I could have handled any other surprises. It seemed safest to just not leave the house until Monday morning. And even though she looks a bit like a tiny prizefighter, she was off to school with her usual verve; with the addition of a swollen eye and Hello Kitty bandage. We specifically picked out one of her birthday shirts that says “Sassy and Fabulous” on the front in gold letters, because if you’re going to show up to kindergarten with stitches and a shiner, the world needs you know that you are definitely those two things.
I’m hoping to channel a little of that this week.
I’m grateful to be back in the proverbial saddle, blogging and posting to you fabulous people. I’m grateful to have survived another bout of single-handed parenting. I’m grateful that Halloween is over, and that there are wonderful souls out there who believe in giving away quality chocolate. I’m grateful for amazing friends who help clear flood debris, pinch hit to grab kids in an emergency, attempt to help glue gashes shut, and hop in the car for a midnight ER ride involving a child that’s not their own.
I’m even grateful for the time change. It’s nice to get kids off to school while the sun is up.
Here’s to all of you, sassy and fabulous, bruises and all. Thanks, as always, for joining me on this ride. Drop me a line to let me know you stopped by. I’d love to hear from you. I’m sure you have a story to share.
Solidarity, sisters. It’s great to be back.
It’s the fourth week of school, so you would think that I’d be over crying at drop-off. And yet, I am not….which is actually kind of surprising, considering I’m not the most sentimental of moms and this is our third time experiencing the whole Kindergarten thing.
I blame it on turning forty. The hormones, the exhaustion…I’m just a mess.
I cried again this morning – I just can’t help myself. There’s no winning here. Of course, I cried the first day. Thank goodness Emry pulled herself together before getting out of the car. It was close, and had she dissolved into tears it would have been over, ugly cry and all. I cried the second day, because I dropped her off with her brother, and they held hands as they walked into the building. I cried the second week, because after some small hesitation, she turned and walked into the entrance closer to her class per her brother’s orders. I cried the third week as she bounced out of the car, running with confidence to her door, backpack and curls bouncing in tandem. And I cried this morning, as I have done every time she turns and holds her little hand up to say “I love you” in sign language.
This year may kill me.
It’s been an unpleasant surprise, this overly emotional response of mine. Like I said, she’s our third kid. We’ve done the Kinder transition before. This is not new, or scary, or intimidating to us as parents. She’s an incredibly smart and confident child. She doesn’t cry or ask to stay home. She’s enjoying her friends, loves her teacher, and is so excited to be a big kid that she basically bubbles over with the enthusiasm of it at all times.
I’m ready for her to be in school. I’m over the toddler thing (no offense, mothers of littles and those just getting started. It’s all precious, it is. But when you’re done, you’re done. I’m in a place where I no longer have the energy or desire for that phase of life. We all get there at some point). I love that she’s learning new things and making new friends. I love that she loves to do her homework, and has to pull every single thing out of her backpack to review it the second she gets home. I love hearing about the cafeteria, and which specials class she attended, and who played with whom at recess. I love that we are in a daily, structured routine, and she goes to school each day just like her brothers.
She’s a big girl now.
And I think that’s the part that’s getting me. Because, as emotional as I was when our first child went to Kindergarten, I didn’t fully know what that meant. I didn’t realize how fast the time would fly. People tell you, but you can’t properly grasp it until you live it. It feels like I blinked one day and “poof!” – Luke’s in middle school. My mother told me this would happen on his first day of elementary school. I was horrified, and a little upset with her for the cruel honesty.
I’m ready for her to be in big kid school. I am nowhere near ready to poof her into middle school.
The night before the first day of school, I stood in each child’s room, praying over them as they slept. I stayed in Emry’s the longest, not because my boys are less important, but because her life change moment was the biggest this time. Her curls were spread over her pillow. Her backpack was full and ready to go. Her outfit and shoes were neatly lined up by the door. She had both hands clasped under her face, tightly holding her snuggle blanket to her chest. It’s an image I’ll treasure forever. My eyes filled with tears as they traveled over her face, drinking in each detail. Then, I found myself smiling, as I noticed the final touch. Her teacher had handed out “magic confetti” at Meet the Teacher night, promising it would chase away all the nervous or fearful thoughts for good sleep before their first day. There it was, her sparkly charm, placed carefully on her pillow for maximum effect.
My heart lifted at the sight. Yes, she’s a big girl. But she’s still got room to be my baby; to cuddle with teddy bears and blankets, giggle at butterflies and believe in magic and fairy tales. I’ll be encouraging those things with all my might. There’s no need to hurry through the stages.
And I’ll cry at drop-off tomorrow, I’m sure. That’s okay. It’s a mommy’s prerogative, and part of my growing up process as well.
Solidarity, sisters. we all grow up sometime.
March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day (you know, because of 3/21), so there is no way I could pass up the chance to weigh in on this. Outside of the fact that I’ve treated kids with this diagnosis over the past fourteen or so years, one of my all-time favorite people on Earth is a part of the DS family. His name is Aaron, and he was born to one of my very best friends (a Saucy Six member, actually) four months before Emry, so he has literally been one of our crew since his initial little fluttery heartbeats.
Did we see him coming? No. Could we imagine life without him? Absolutely not.
He is funny and smart, destructive and tireless, stubborn and loving all bundled into a fiery, adorable package of four-year-old boy. And every time he points, exclaiming, “Gecka!” while lunging towards my hug, he melts my heart……which he totally knows and uses to his advantage when needed.
Aaron, like all children, loves to play and run and get his way. His laugh is infectious, his smile is beautiful, and his frown a sad little sight.
He dances to any music, any time, any place.
He sings his favorite songs.
He loves Mickey Mouse.
He adores his sisters, his friends and his family.
He is impatient with difficult tasks, situations or people.
He gets cranky when he is tired or hungry.
He doesn’t like vegetables.
He thinks his mommy is funny.
He throws toys or sand or food or tantrums, when we wish he wouldn’t.
He knows his alphabet and his numbers to 25.
He distributes hugs or hits, depending on his mood.
So far, he sounds just like my three kids. How about yours?
In the future, as he gets older, he will:
- continue growing
- go to school
- learn to read
- develop new skills
- get a job
- move out of his parents’ house
- make new friends
Again, sound familiar? I did all those things….so did my friends……so will my kids.
Aaron, and the other people around us with DS, have an extra 21st chromosome. If anything, they’ve got us all beat in the genetic information realm, as opposed to lacking anything. This addition results in DS and the complications associated with it. They may face health issues. They may have to undergo surgeries. They develop at a slower pace than their peers, and require a little more help to achieve their goals and learn new skills.
So…..some of us need a little help from our friends. The Beatles did. No one had a problem with that.
And, interestingly, we learn a lot from those who are different than us. We learn to slow down, and truly look at the world around us, often through a different lens than the one we normally wear. We learn to have patience for our fellow humans, and maybe a little for ourselves. We learn that love is unconditional, and flexible, and immeasurable. We learn that beauty comes in unlimited forms, and is found in places we never thought to look. We learn that things we thought we were scary aren’t so bad once we become informed, because fear is in the unknown.
We learn that young children are often our best teachers when it comes to embracing their friends, and we should encourage that trait as they grow.
The other day, we were driving (as usual, because all I do when I’m not working is chauffeur people around) and my kids began a conversation about birthdays and friends, etc. Emry, who is always looking for ways not to be the baby in the group, began listing her friends and asking about their birthdays. Naturally, Aaron was at the top of the list. Our conversation went something like this:
Em: “Mommy, Aaron is four, like me.”
Me:: “Yes, he is.”
Em: “When I turn five, he’ll still be four. He’s the baby.”
Me: “Well, no, he won’t be. Aaron’s birthday is before yours, so he’ll already be five when you turn five.”
Em: “But, I’ll be five first, right?”
Me: “No. He’ll be five first. You’ll still be four.”
Em: “I’ll still be four?” (I could see the wheels turning – foiled in her quest for non-baby of the group)
Em: “Aaron’s first?”
Me: “Yes, ma’am.”
(silent pause – during which I am frantically trying to come up with an age appropriate explanation as to why Aaron doesn’t have to be the baby and she does, in case she starts arguing her case with examples of why she must be the older one, given that she speaks more clearly or runs faster or jumps higher or……)
Em: “Okay, Mommy. Then I’ll be second!”
And just like that, she flashed me the hugest grin, and we were on to the next topic. It was that simple. Because Aaron is her friend, and this time, he gets to be first.
Because when she sees him, she sees her buddy, her lifelong pal, who generally is a pretty good sport about letting her boss him around.
Because friends take turns, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
Because different is just fine. Period.
Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Extra chromosomes or not
We praise Him with all we’ve got
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
One of my major goals in life is to never go grocery shopping with all three of my children. I know….many of you may be thinking I should aim a little higher with my accomplishment expectations. Those of you with multiple young children feel my pain though. I mean, it’s not that I don’t love my kids or want to spend time with them. And it’s not that I am so overwhelmed by grocery shopping that I can’t handle the thought of taking my kids….even though it takes three times as long….and involves pinching and shoving and threats (from a veritable treasure trove of combinations – we’re like a math word problem. “If a mommy and her three kids all go to the store, and each person threatens bodily harm to the other in every possible variation of combinations, how many threats can you calculate?’). And, while we’re at it, it costs more. Because at some point, even the most strict and determined of mothers runs out of steam in the “no, we are not buying that” argument. Plus, they tag team. They alternate between acting like if we don’t buy everything in sight the world will end, to getting incredibly excited over basic foods (like it’s shocking I am providing sustenance for them), to distracting me with someone’s meltdown or crazy social interactions so that the others can sneak goods into the basket. I feel kind of bad, like I am painting a picture of crazy hooligans at the store. Well, if the shoe fits….
By the time we get to checkout on these days, I am beyond frazzled and ready to trade them in for extra organic anything. Our latest experience was no exception. At some point, you just get past your capacity to handle to amount of sensory overload this adventure involves. Drew thinks he can bag groceries…..and while it is precious that he wants to help, eggs cost too much to get smushed before you even leave the store. Luke loves to pull Emry out of the cart, despite my (semi) strict she-rides-in-the-cart rule, and then after about ten seconds he forgets he promised to carry her around or be in charge of her in any capacity, so she runs wild throughout the front of the store…and she’s small for her age. Which means a) no one can see her before they trip over her or run her down with a cart and b) people without children or who have forgotten what it’s like to have them glare at me as I try to pay for groceries/catch her/stop the smushing/shout for Luke to get back here/make it out alive.
This particular trip, we finally made our way out of the store into the light (I actually thought it might be dark outside, even though we arrived during the day….that’s how eternal the session inside felt) and started across the parking lot. It was one of those days that no one offered to help us with carry out, whether because they were too busy or the staff decided they don’t make enough to put up with any more of our crazy. As I pushed the cart (so full of groceries I couldn’t see over the top….or steer….or fit Emry in the front, so she was hanging half on the cart and half on my leg), we made our way across the parking lot. We walked all the way down the row. All the way….as in, no more cars were parked there. I stopped, looked around, shrugged, and started back the opposite way. Calling out to the boys who were pummeling each other, I laboriously turned the Titanic of our cart and made my way up the next aisle, having overshot our suburban. We walked to the front of that row and then stopped. Hmm….Weird. No sight of our car here, either. I shouted at the boys again, clutched Emry to my side, and repeated this pattern two or three more times.
Crap. Either our car had been stolen, or I had totally lost my bearings and forgotten where I parked it. Which never happens. Ever. Unless, apparently, my mental capacity is completely over its limit by the multi-tasking it takes to shop with three children. The boys began to grumble about walking in circles, and right as I opened my mouth with a less-than-motherly comeback, I heard a voice booming across the parking lot.
The retort died on my lips as I froze. I really hate being called ma’am, for one. And second, there is nothing quite like the humiliation of having a stranger witness your inability to find your vehicle in a parking lot. I turned to locate the source of the voice, cringing. Then I stood, mouth hanging open, as I found him.
Across the way and halfway down the lot, standing on top of his truck was a tried and true cowboy. I kid you not. He had it all – jeans with a giant belt buckle, handle bar mustache and enormous white hat. Holy cow. He was waving his arm above his head while shouting out to us, “It seems you’re having some trouble finding your vehicle!”
Does it? Does it seem so? What was your first clue, my friend? And how can you be sure I’m not just pushing this giant cart up and down every row out here as a new form of exercise? It’s all the rage in mommy resistance training.
Of course, I said none of those things, just nodded and smiled as my boys yelled out that we drive a tan suburban and couldn’t find it anywhere, even though we’d been walking forever. Do you know how many tan suburbans are in an HEB parking lot at any given time? A lot. We walked up to at least four of them. Each time, my western friend would call out, “No? Not that one? Ok, well, I see another on over there!” and my boys would swear up and down that now they remembered! It was that way!
Seriously…how big can one parking lot be??? This is not a large city we live in! Finally, tired and cranky and frustrated, I turned on my heel, ignored the cowboy, left my sons arguing, headed in the opposite direction…..and found my car in about five seconds. Emry, whom I had plopped on top of the mountain of goods, stayed wisely quite, slapping me a silent high five. My sons came pounding up to the car as I finished loading the back with our wares. We all piled in, and I took a deep breath, made myself eat humble pie, and drove over to the cowboy to thank him for his help (his trailer had four-wheelers, not horses, but still….hat + mustache = cowboy)
As we pulled out of the parking lot, Luke turned to me and said, “Mom, you have got to blog this. I’m not even kidding.” You got it, kiddo…..
Reflecting on it later, and finally able to laugh about it, I was as surprised as I was amused at what a general life lesson this is. Some days, some seasons, in life get so confusing and bogged down and turned around, that we lose our way and find ourselves confounded in situations that shouldn’t be overwhelming or difficult…..but they are. We get lost, unable to see where we want to go and/or how to get there. These are times when we need someone with a different view, a perspective that is outside the immediate problem, to step in and offer a helping hand or opinion or angle to help us find our way. We need to reach out to the ones who love us and are eager to forge ahead onto the right path with us…..or at least help us find it. They are a blessing, these helping hands and eyes. We should embrace their assistance and aspects.
And we should know as well, that there are times when they can’t do it for us. When all the well-meaning advice and vision and outlook and support in the world aren’t going to do the trick. Those times, and we all have them, we need to have the strength and wisdom and fortitude to smile and say thank you, then turn on our heel and head towards the destination meant for us….and us alone. Because in the end, no one can do it for us. No one can bring us to our destination, our destiny. That leg of the journey is personal.
We did make one more stop, the kids and I, and went out to eat at a little cafe in celebration of surviving our shopping soiree (and because it took so long we were all starving). Luke is in a phase in which he insists on only speaking in a British accent when we go places, so he ordered his food and interacted with the girl at the counter in this manner…..to be honest, his accent is amazing and totally believable….until you hear his mother speak. My accent is not remotely related to anything British. Which would be confusing enough in and of itself, but Drew (who is in a Spanish immersion program) decided he was in the mood to interact in Spanish, so my conversations with him took place totally in Spanish. He even spoke to his siblings and the server this way. And Emry…..well, what can I say? Half the time she sounded like a valley girl (this is her new thing) and the other half she used made up words in what she feels is her own version of Spanish.
I’ve decided to view us as international….or cosmopolitan….as opposed to just really strange. If nothing else, we amused the staff there to no end. And perhaps contributed to the message of birth control.
Solidarity, sisters. Sometimes you need a guy in a white hat….or with an accent.
Our next door neighbors have an adorable little boy who is one month younger than our Bug (obviously, this is the nickname for our sweet baby girl – we would never actually name a child Bug…we have more creativity and class than that. Unless we were to have 20 kids like the Duggars, in which case all bets are off. Because at that point I think you are excused from having to come up with actual names). Sorry….back to the topic at hand. Precious little boy next door…go. So, they of course, are fast friends and take every opportunity to play together. The other day, as we pulled into the neighborhood, Bug asked to go play with her friend if he was home. We drove past his house towards our driveway, and she began to bounce excitedly in her car seat while calling out, “Yep, he’s home!” when she saw his father’s truck.
We unloaded the car, lugged our wares inside and had a reluctant potty break (her, not me. After delivering three children, I am ever at the ready for a potty break). Finally, she was ready to go. I made the normal mommy noises about only playing briefly until dinner and when she nodded her understanding, I began to walk her to the door. Her big eyes and little hand stopped me. “Mommy”, she declared, “I can go by myself.”
“Are you sure?”, I asked.
“Oh, yes!”, came the enthusiastic reply, “I’ll just walk right over and ring the dingle. Then, I’ll ask my friend to play.”
And off she went – out the front door, down the steps, across our lawn, then onto their lawn, to their walkway and finally front step.
As I watched from the porch, then followed at a discreet distance until I saw her enter the house, I found myself awed and grateful. Awed at this perfect miniature creature marching with confidence across the grass, skirt flouncing, curls bouncing, full of fun and fire as she made her way to an impromptu play date. And grateful, so very grateful that, for this lifetime, at least, I get to call her mine. I get to be a part of her phenomenal and unfolding existence.
I sent up a prayer of thanksgiving – thanks that she is here, thanks that she can walk herself where she wants to go and thanks for her freedom and confidence and zest for life. I prayed for the protection and preservation of all those things. For her spirit and heart – that they remain unbroken and pure. That she remains a confident seeker of fun and companionship, never doubting her worth or welcome. Always marching towards her goals with a spring in her step and a song in her heart – and staying sure of a life worth living, worth experiencing, worth every episode that results when she looks at the door in front of her and stretches out her hand to ring the dingle.
Solidarity sisters – some days we just need to initiate the play date.
Houston, we have a girlfriend…. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. Our oldest son, Luke, came home a few weeks ago with the news that he now has a girlfriend. Though this is a terrifying concept, we humored him, given that it started the last two weeks of school, she doesn’t live in our neighborhood, and he has no phone or other way in which to contact her now that school has ended and summer has begun. That being said, I am screaming inside. I can NOT be old enough to have a child with working hormones! It’s unthinkable.
For reasons that escape me, which is probably a good thing, this sweet young thing nicknamed my son Gummy Bear. Not kidding. No idea. I’m just trying to keep my face expressionless and roll with it. So, of course, he spent the last week of school harassing us to buy a bag of gummy bears to give to her the last day of school. Which is kind of cute. And he wore his dad’s gummy bear t-shirt. Which is disturbing on several levels:
a) My husband has a gummy bear t-shirt (it’s really pretty cool – the bear has his ears bitten off and it says I Can’t Hear You)
b) Luke can wear his dad’s shirt. He’s 10.
c) The gummy bear theme is this pervasive. And he is this into it as “their thing”. Ugh.
But, I digress. Back to the story. Gummy bear requests from Luke, lots of eye rolling and teasing from me. And then, one evening on the way to swim practice, he told me this story.
Luke: So, I told “Sweetie” (let’s just refer to her as that) I was going to bring her a surprise.
Me: Oh? (keeping a look of polite, no-I-am-not-freaking-out-at-this-conversation interest on my face). Was she excited?
Luke: No, She told me not to give her a present. She says she doesn’t deserve one.
Me: Why? (more curious than freaked out at this point)
Luke: I asked her that. And she said, “Because I’m me”.
Me: What did you say to that? (no longer having to feign interest….I was riveted)
Luke: I told her, “So? What’s wrong with being you? You still deserve a present”. So, I really want to get her the gummy bears tonight. Ok, Mom?
I sat and listened to my son as he told this story with such open-hearted innocence, and my thoughts were bittersweet.
Bitter: How sad is it that already, at only age 10, this young woman-in-the-making so clearly hears the voice of doubt in her head, and she believes it as it whispers, “You’re not enough”. In her mind, is the whisper already a shout? Does it overpower the innocence and creativity and positive reinforcement that should still exist?
Sweet: My son’s response – his kind and compassionate heart was compelled to not only see her as a person of beauty, but to express to her that she has value. That “me” is absolutely worth gifts and recognition. My heart sang through its tears at this.
So I smiled at my wonderful son, quit rolling my eyes, and stopped at three different stores until we found the right gummy bears.
Solidarity, sisters. Never doubt your worth…or turn down a present :).