I have two sons. They are beautiful in every way. My oldest is a package of wonder and exploration. He loves reading, spelling, has an incredible gift for self-expression and has a tender heart for loving and helping others. My youngest is a bundle of pure, unbridled energy. He likes to go, go, go, go, go. Lol. But he’s also sweet and tender, loves to share with his brother, gives the most precious hugs and kisses and is a sheer blessing. I watch them sometimes. They are carefree in play, thought and laughter. At ages 7 and 3, their only concerns are having fun, doing what Mommy and Daddy say, and not getting in trouble. And that’s all the cares they should have. However, I have the gnawing feeling within myself, that I don’t have long before I am going to have to do something I don’t want to have to ….
You see, my sons are black. That shouldn’t matter. It doesn’t take away from any of the attributes I’ve mentioned about them earlier. They are the apple of my eye and promise for the future. They are special and made in God’s image. I know, of course, that all people in the world won’t see them this way. But it’s even more painful to realize, given recent happenings, especially in Florida, that I am going to have to train my sons in an all new way.
I don’t want to have to look in my young baby’s eyes and tell my oldest that as he approaches double digits, he will have to be conscious of a specific way of conducting himself. And this way has nothing to do with his incredible manners, respect for himself and others, or the many gifts God has given him. It will have to do with the narrow-minded ignorant bigotry of some, the unacceptable availability and acceptability of firearms, and the stench of silence on this issue pervasive in this nation.
Can someone please tell me how to say this to an innocent child? Because I don’t want to have to….
My baby just lost his first tooth! Ah, it evokes so many emotions in me. Happiness for him – he has been wanting to lose a tooth all school year, and made sure I knew he was the ONLY kid in class who hadn’t lost one. Sadness for me … I mean, I knew it was time for it to happen, but still. And finally, the sting of stark reality… my little boy is growing up.
Are most parents (especially moms) as sappy as me? Pardon me while I wax nostalgic … but I still remember your toothless smile on your first Christmas pictures. I remember how long we waited for the very first tooth to come in. My mind can replay your first step, your first word, the first time you ate food by yourself (spaghetti, what a mess!) and the first time you dressed yourself – or at least tried to, lol. I don’t really have some profound thought or knowledge to impart … just sharing memories of a sweet boy growing up right before my eyes. Toothless, full mouth, missing one, missing some … I’ll always love your smile.
I’ve decided once per month to do a post called “Champion Kids’ Nuggets”. I have people ask me frequently how I get my oldest son involved in so many activities and help him achieve high levels of success. (I don’t neglect my youngest, but he’s only 3) .At age 7, my son has already started working on a non-profit company, held an event to benefit charity under his non-profit, has had writings published in a magazine, and achieves academic excellence. I am not saying these things to brag. And no, I don’t mercilessly push him and keep him from enjoying his childhood. In fact, the opposite is true. I go to great lengths to involve him in playdates and take him on adventures for pure enjoyment. But there are a couple of nuggets I will share today that have helped put him on this track.
1. I provide an example for him. Sure, you say, every parent provides an example for their child. But you have to be extremely purposeful in what you provide. When I’d like to watch some “mindless television” but the kids are around, I pick up a book instead. When someone is in need and I could be selfish and pretend to “look the other way”, I don’t. I participate in charity events, and do many things on a personal level, even with friends and family, to show how important giving is to our family. I’m far from perfect. But what I am is purposeful.
2. I don’t accept less than his best. Now before you start thinking, “see, she does push him too hard”, let me explain. He’s not a big fan of drawing, or coloring. So I don’t expect any Picasso-esque masterpieces. As long as his stick figures drawings are pretty much on subject and his coloring is in the lines, we’re good. But he likes writing, and expresses himself well. And when he takes his time, he can write beautifully written stories accompanied by equally beautiful penmanship. When he rushes, well, let’s just say he won’t need med school to have a doctor’s signature. His chicken scratch is impossible to read. So instead of letting him get away with scribbling, and throwing something together, I make him redo his work. Multiple times if necessary. Until he does it the way that I know he can. The result? He takes pride in his work. He feels good when he does it right. And he continues the progress to excellence. I don’t demand perfection. Just his best.
When it comes to my little guy, I’ll follow the same principles. It may not look the way it does for his big brother – he could hate writing but have an incredible ear for music – but I will always keep an example before them, and help them to do their best.
Most parents would do just about anything for their kids. I’m no different. If it’s in my power, I want to make it happen. I love giving my boys new experiences they enjoy, as well as seeking out opportunities to expand their thinking. Recently I found an abundance of additional opportunities in our area for my oldest son. Excited, I tackled each one like a woman possessed. I found requirements, application deadlines, dos and don’ts. We were ready. And then I stopped for a moment, and reviewed this monumental list. And that’s when it hit me. I have to prioritize for him the same way I do for myself.
So far this year I’ve done a good job of not over-extending myself, and using one of the most beautiful words in the English language … “no”. But when it came to my baby, I was placing no limits on what he could do. There was a slight problem with that scenario. At age 7, truthfully, he couldn’t “do” much himself. Meaning, he can’t drive himself to these opportunities, he can’t complete the applications, he can’t buy the supplies or do the research, and he can’t do any of the follow-up necessary to ensure his experience is a success. As a parent, that’s my job. One I am glad to do.
However, I am learning that I need to view his experiences as another priority for myself. I must decide whether or not it’s something we can do at this time based upon my other responsibilities. It’s a humbling realization, because as I said, I’d do just about anything to advance my children. But I believe a few well-researched and enriching opportunities will be better for him and our family, than an abundance of activities that don’t get the appropriate time or effort … and are accompanied by a wearied mom.
Before kids, Valentine’s Day was a romantic holiday for me and my hubby. We stopped eating out every Valentine’s years ago because of the crowds, but always made efforts to make the day extra special. This Valentine’s Day, like many in recent years, won’t be just us two, but us four. We’ll enjoy school Valentine’s Parties, hopefully some chocolate and family “I love you’s”.
Instead of being bummed about not enjoying the romance of years past, I’ll be thankful. Thankful to see another February 14. Thankful to have a husband who loves me. And thankful for my two precious joys. It will still be a day of celebration. And a day of love.
Happy Valentine’s Day
When I hear parents talk about “letting go”, I picture Moms crying and Dads hugging their kids dropping them off for college, or helping them move into their own place. In other words, I’m thinking of the kids as adults. That’s the time, I tell myself, that I have to build up for. That’s when I know I’ll have to let my baby go. But the lessons are coming much faster … and earlier … than I’d wanted or anticipated.
A dear friend was watching my boys for me. As I picked them up and prepared to leave, she and her sons mentioned they were going to see a movie. My 7-year-old perked up, and said he’d been wanting to see that movie. He started asking if we could go. I responded with my all-encompassing “we’ll see”, which really means I have a ton to do today and I don’t see it happening, but I don’t want you to cause a scene. Lol. Then my friend offered to take my son with her boys. He cheered. I cringed.
I made a few excuses, thinking each one valid. My husband refuted, saying let him go. Tentatively, I agreed. I put him in their vehicle and kissed him goodbye. Not until I watched them pull off, did I realize the reason I was hesitant to say yes. It wasn’t because I don’t trust my friend – she’s amazing and loves my kids like her own. It wasn’t because I didn’t know what they were going to do – see an appropriate kids’ movie and have pizza. And it wasn’t even because I would be out of the loop – my friend said she’d text me the entire time and even send pictures. So why didn’t I want to let him go? Because I was doing just that …. letting him go.
And it hit me. Letting go of your children isn’t just a one-time thing. And it definitely won’t wait until they hit adulthood. Letting go is a very gradual process, somewhat sneaky in its devices. Your heart hurts a little, and you realize they are growing up right before your eyes. You smile wistfully, and silently resolve to make the best of every precious moment now.
My son is back at home now – after several texts and pictures during his time away. But as I think back on his first day of school, watching him get hurt playing sports, and now letting him go out with his friends (without me), I understand that doing my job in helping him to grow up, means doing my part in letting him go…..
Things Overheard At My House Over The Years …
1. “I’m a junior adult” (from a 5-year old to his little brother)
2. “They said at church that we have etunnel life” (from a 4-year old driving through a tunnel)
3. “I have my business cards ready.” (from a 3-year-old as we leave the house)
4. “It was thoughtful of you to make me a sandwich.” (from a hungry 2-year-old)
5. “Good night, my beautiful queen” (from a 5-year old to his ecstatic mother)
6. “Not too shabby, girl, not too shabby” (from a 6-year old smooth talker)
I recently read a great article that talked about how husbands will sometimes need to save their wives … from themselves. At first glance, it didn’t make sense to me. Until I saw my own hubby do it.
He protected me from my children. Yes, from my children. I’d spent the entire morning and afternoon with the boys – and loved it. We had a blast. I closed up the laptop, said goodbye to writing for the day, and hello to crafts and cartoons. So when it came time to work, my oldest lamented to my husband that I was working too much and not spending any time with him. My husband handled it swiftly – and strongly. By the end of their conversation, my son was writing me thank you notes for working so hard to help the family. And the best part – I never even knew about it until I got the thank you’s. My husband saved me from an unnecessary guilt trip.
Next, I watched my husband protect me … from me. I’ve had the tendency in the past to push myself. Push past the point of fatigue, frustration, hunger, etc. I was recently sick and pushing to go to an event. Thankfully, he pulled in the reigns. I ended up getting the rest I needed and recovering a lot faster. He saved me from making dumb decisions (yes, dumb) about my health.
Lastly, my husband has protected me from outside influences. This includes people making unreasonable demands, who may be out to use or take advantage of me, or situations when I should go for it but others are trying to dissuade me. He’s in my corner, he’s got my back, and has saved me from doing things and enjoying opportunities I may have regretted missing later.
So men … though your wife may think she’s “superwoman” and has got it all together, know that she needs you. If for nothing more than to protect her … from herself.