Lessons in parenting

I don’t know what to title this entry. I have so many words yet little direction. I have a swarm of emotion just brewing beneath the surface all escaping my grasp of being able to string them together in a coherent post. The beginning feels something like that of wakefulness. A new day has dawned and little did you know that while you were sleeping the world was changing. The world was evolving and rotating and becoming something more than it was the day before yet it still looks the same, at least in some ways. Most recognizable is that the world is still just that, but with the essence of a newness that can’t be comprehended entirely with just one look or with a short conversation. It is something that will take time to process and come to fruition. This is the inescapable truth of parenting.

My son will turn ten years old in just a few short hours. Although we have separate beds and bedrooms, we still find co-sleeping to be of great comfort to us on nights when our bond has been challenged. My son sleeps lightly near me as I write. Although I am listening to music while I write, I can still hear the sound of his slumber and feel the warmth of his body near me. He is innocent and silent. His kindness and tender heart are illuminated by the scruffy teddy bear he has tucked under his arm and cuddled to his chest. He’s just a boy. A little boy who is finding his way in the world. A boy who started as a tiny swaddle of hopes and dreams nestled in my arms as he joined this world ten short years ago. His challenges haven’t been few. He started this life by taking 30 hours to emerge from his cozy womb. A night or two later, blue light was projected upon his tiny fragile body helping his kidneys and liver to work. Fast forward a few years and he’s moving out of the home he has always known because his mother and father are divorcing. Move one. Move two. Start school. Move again. And then the childhood influences of other children begin to manifest in our home in the form of, “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours…”. That was the hardest week of my life as a parent. It couldn’t have been easy on my son either because all I did was cry and remained silent for three days. I couldn’t trust myself to say anything right. I couldn’t trust that what I would say would be helpful or growth-promoting and not shameful or disgusting. I stayed quiet. I cried. I prayed. I cried some more. I prayed for easier days. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed for comfort in hopes that my son was not victimized by another small child.

For quite some time now, the parenting road has been rather smooth. So easy sometimes that I wonder if I’ve been cruising on autopilot. And as soon as I question that, I learn that I have another challenge awaiting the bend.

Three weeks ago or so, my son walked in on me sharing an adult moment with someone I care about deeply. Right, wrong or otherwise, he was not supposed to see that. I had to have one of the hardest conversations of my life with my child. I had to know what he saw and what questions he might have. I think this is the worst nightmare of any parent who ever graced God’s green earth and I am no exception. I sighed more in one hour than I have ever sighed collectively in my entire life! I was truly mortified. In that experience though, I learned a lot about myself as a mother. First, I have integrity. I chose truth over deceit and I chose to be candid without saying anything inappropriate to my young boy. Although it was hard to do, I used my courage and bravery to deal with something unpleasant. I also got a strong wake-up call that I must have better boundaries. The lessons didn’t stop there, another was on its way.

Last week, my son was getting carried away with a friend of his who was traveling in the car with us. I had asked many times for them to calm down and relax but it was useless. I raised my voice. I yelled at them to stop and then immediately felt like a guilty, worthless, idiot. I shouldn’t be yelling at all. I should be demonstrating self-control and good judgment regardless of my situation. My son and I spent most of our evening talking and crying. In the end though, and as I looked for insight, I realized the source of my frustration laid in the fact that my son was being a follower rather than a leader and he was not demonstrating any level of self-control in the face of temptation. I knew, that as a parent, I must teach him this lesson in this moment because a person growing without self-restraint has more potential to be a menace to society than anything else. A person with wisdom and clarity must be able to rein themselves in at appropriate times. I am raising a young person to be an adult in this crazy world! He must know how to handle himself! Lesson two was in the box as many kleenex were laid to rest in the waste basket.

Lesson three followed closely on the heels of lesson two. Peer pressure. Bullying. Communication.

I learned that my son was being coerced into starting fights at school. Two other young boys were egging him on and trying to persuade him to start a fight with a boy whom my son has been friends with for several years. Apparently, George isn’t popular and these boys want to see him get into a fight with his closest friend and neighbor. I absolutely will not dismiss fighting with the old cliche that “boys will be boys”. Horse shit. That is absolute nonsense and is no different than shaming a girl who is raped because of what she wears. People must be in control and take responsibility for their decisions. It is NOT ok to fight someone and it is not ok to bully another person into thinking that beating up a friend is a noble thing to do. I won’t tolerate that in my society. So lesson three, closed quickly and without any scrapes, bruises, or suspensions, but definitely a wiser family and stronger connection.

Communication was the essence of these lessons. I need to talk to my son more. I need to pry into his life at school. I need to lock doors. And I need to continuously exercise my integrity muscle. My son is a great teacher. He gave me several strong lessons in how to become a better parent to him.


The Repressed Peach