The last baby tooth. 

Parenting is such an interesting journey. It’s full of ups and downs, twists and turns and a little bit of duck, dive and dodge. It’s beautifully analogous to life. And oh what a life it is!

Being a mom is my pride and joy. It’s one of the things I feel I am best at. And by best, I mean in a simple, thoughtful, realistic kind of way. I’m not an over the top, hovercraft, expert-level Pinterest mom, and I’m not a bedazzled, superstar. I’m just thoughtful, caring, disciplined, routine, ordinary, yet exceptional mom to a spectacular young man who makes me love life, enjoy philosophical convos, explore new things, encourage laughter and make beautiful life-long memories together. He is my pride and my joy. He’s my happiness. And I’ve told him so since he was a wee small babe laying in bed ready to go night-night.

He’s a big guy now. Nearly 13 and full of personality, wonder, and silliness. I love every bit of it! Just as I loved watching him find his toes to watching him learn to sit up, I find joy in his development into young adulthood. Milestone and after milestone he’s just blossomed into the person he is today. Like many parents, one of the biggest milestones is cutting teeth. Oh watching, waiting and feeling for those baby teeth to come in is something so treasured and longed for. Our babies can dine with us! They can explore foods and try new things and menu options soon become endless! It’s a glorious thing to be shared by all. Photos are taken, tricks are played to encourage that new toothy grin, Grandma’s fingers, Grandpa’s fingers and everyone else in the family explore the newly developed toofers that have erupted! So much happens at this major milestone and so many adorable memories are made. From the first tooth to the last, we celebrate and create rituals and ceremonies to commemorate the adventure.

But what about the last baby tooth? That last little bugger that holds on and waits until nearly 13 to let go and give way for the final adult tooth to break through? No celebration? No victory dance? No letters from the tooth fairy? Well, tonight my son found a splendid way to celebrate. After pulling his own last baby tooth from his mouth, he washed and dried it then wrapped it in the customary tissues. But when he couldn’t find any tape to secure the wrappings, he took to the craft closet to tie a beautiful red ribbon around it. 

He sent me a text of his final product with the sweet words “my final present to the tooth fairy”. My heart nearly split in two from the pure joy and happiness I felt at his ceremonial wrappings and sincere words.

Tonight, when I play my last role as the Tooth Fairy, I’m going to relish the opportunity to get up in the middle of the night and cautiously leave a nice sum of money under his warm pillow. I’m going to remember the times we shared watching him cut his first tooth up to tonight when he so bravely pulled his own tooth and found a unique way of celebrating the commencement of this ritual and milestone. He’s a joy to raise. A joy to love. A joy to be a mom to. He’s my greatest gift and my most treasured person. ❤️

Lovingly,

The Repressed Peach

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Scars

Few people know the details of my upbringing and all that I had to watch, suffer through, and recover from. The horrors of life were ever present in my life from the time I was a small infant to my older teenage years. This included trauma and chaos at school too. Few people realize how badly I was tormented as a child in school. I had several factors stacked against me. First, I have a unique first name that rhymes with colorful, nasty words (think: “Nicky likes _____.”); I have red hair, and my maiden name was Crisp. To add to the fun, I was also miserably poor. My mom was a single mom of three kids and we had a horrible life full of drugs, neglect, abuse (every kind you can define), and homelessness. We moved from house to house, often lived with my grandparents, worked in their restaurant, and struggled to find any sense of stability. It was awful to say the least. Nobody should have to live like that. In the midst of it all, I found a love for school. I loved school and the teachers. I thrived in school at every opportunity. I loved my teachers and clung to them for safety and security. They were my beacons of hope for a different life.  A life that I deserved. A life that I could make for myself if I just tried hard enough and made good decisions toward. The sad part about this is that school was not safe for me either. I was tormented for all the things that made me unique. I was called names, teased mercilessly, rumors spread about me, and ridiculed at every turn. I remember it was in 4th grade that things started to get really ugly. I was manipulated into thinking I was doing things wrong, that I wasn’t a good friend, and that I was not worthy of friendship, love, or life. I remember walking home from the bus stop crying my eyes out every single day of 4th, 5th, and most of 6th grade. Nobody helped me. Nobody stood up for me. My mom did nothing. The school did nothing. The teachers did nothing. The bus drivers did nothing. My friends cowered behind the bullies thankful they weren’t the targets of such pain. I cried in humiliation, fear, sadness and thought that maybe I didn’t deserve to live. I never attempted to take my life, but if it weren’t for the grace of God, and His divine intervention, I could have lost all hope for better days. Some of the people I am connected to today on social media were my bullies. They’ve never apologized. We’ve never been close. But they are part of why I am who I am today. I don’t see myself as a victim of anything in life, I see myself as a survivor and I am thriving. However, I do not aim to minimize my experiences. In fact, I aim to highlight that life is hard and kids can be cruel, but with time, healing, and good guidance even the worst of the worst can be made good.

I have to remember this in the season I am in right now.

See, my son has become the target of bullying. He has been hit in the face on several occasions, his books and band instrument taken away from him and thrown on the ground, he’s been called names and ridiculed in front of his peers. All while at school, with teachers, cameras, and a wonderful thing called “David’s Law” are in place. And despite all of these things, here we are, 30 years later, and I am replaying the trauma I experienced as a young girl. My trauma does not equal his trauma, but it has prepared me to face this issue head on and with a fierceness that only a parent can muster when their child is being mistreated. The scars of my past have been opened a bit and my unspent tears are being shed in love for my son, the sweetest, most gentle, kind-hearted person the world has known. He is a smart, kind, talented, warm, friendly, inquisitive, joyful, God-loving, encouraging, funny 12 year old. He is all of this and so much more. Thankfully, he doesn’t have any “flaws” stacked against him that makes him an easy target, but here he is being tormented and assaulted at school. I can’t figure out what has caused this other child to lash out against my son. To add fuel to the already volatile situation, the perpetrator in this case is the principal’s son. Lovely.

Ironically, before the first days of 7th grade, my son’s school held what was called “Prep Days” where you get your school ID, class schedule, and find the classrooms on your schedule. While we were there, I spoke with the principal and the assistant principals about a series of inappropriate activities that occurred on the school bus that ran through my neighborhood the year before. Several students had shared that inappropriate sexual activities were taking place between kids on the bus and several fights broke out, too. Well, when I addressed these concerns all of the principals were baffled at the information as though they had never heard of anything like that. They claimed nobody had reported any of this misbehavior and had no knowledge of any parental concerns about what was happening on the bus. The principal even had a dismissive tone as I spoke with him. Red flags went up all over my brain. Not a good impression. And definitely not a good sign of things to come in the given situation.

Nobody deserves to go through this experience. Yet we know that so many kids are victims of bullying and so many suffer in silence. So many kids don’t have anyone to tell. They don’t have anyone to fight for them. They have no voice to be heard and nobody advocates for the mistreatment to stop. Thankfully there are societal changes taking shape, but the abuse happens faster than laws can be passed or lives saved. I will ensure that I use every single resource at my disposal to ensure my son’s safety and that of others. I will not stand idle by and watch my son or any other child abused like this. I know the depth at which these experiences affect you and the pain that stays with you most of your life. I know the helplessness one feels when faced with bullying and mistreatment. Know this: I will advocate for the safety of all children at this school. I will go to any length necessary to achieve the desired results. I will spare no expense in my endeavors.

I may have scars from my childhood, but I am going to use them as badges of honor in my fight. My bullies had their day, but I will have mine in the demand for this to cease for my child.

Expressly,

The Repressed Peach

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.

Expressly,

The Repressed Peach