This boy that I love has inspired me to dust off this blog, ignore the work I have waiting for me, and share something that I don’t ever want to forget. It’s a story about a conversation I had with him tonight that reminded me how important it is to love him just the way he is. In a moment of parental brilliance (the same kind that leads us to think, “I know a GREAT way to make picking up toys seem like fun!” I thought I would give my son a chance to be a brave big brother. Because although my boy is a lot of things, brave is not one of them. He is not brave. I know this, everyone who knows him knows this. Sure, maybe he’s one of those cool self-esteem building definitions of brave like, “being brave means always feeling free to cry in front of people about the smallest thing that upsets you,” but he is certainly not the courageous kind of brave. He has been outclimbed, outjumped, and outdared on every playground he’s ever been to, by kids half his age. I used to call him cautious…sure. He’s cautious alright. He is not fearless, and he never has been. So I thought tonight, I would create an opportunity for him to feel strong and brave. Nice of me, right?
So as we were getting ready for bedtime, and I was holding Ayla, I said, “Buddy, tomorrow is the day of Ayla’s big 8 week appointment when she’s going to get four shots. I thought maybe you could tell her about…” But I never got to finish. Because instead of his chest puffing up and his voice getting deeper as he dispensed six-year-old wisdom, his eyes shot open in panic and he immediately began to cry. “NO, Mommy, I don’t WANT her to get any shots. I don’t want her to hurt, ever. She’s just a baby, she can’t handle it, Mommy!” (sobbing and shaking his head now) “Mommy, she’s not REALLY 8 weeks old yet, because she was an early baby! She will have to wait and have those shots later! NO MOMMY, I don’t WANT her to have ANY! Can her body handle that pain? NO IT CAN’T!” and he clutched onto her little legs and cried and shook his head and I realized that I had asked him to be something he wasn’t, because I thought it would be good for him.
I do want Aaron to be brave. Not because he’s a boy, but because life takes bravery. He does worry and care and cry and maybe one of those alternative definitions of bravery does apply to us: the one about giving your whole heart in complete love after suffering the worst possible loss, and he has most certainly done that, more than anyone could ever ask of such a young person. So Chris and I talked to him about why we think the shots were important (no vaccination debate please) and how the pain from the shots only lasts a very short while but they are designed to help protect her from things that would be much more painful and dangerous to her. We also reminded him that he had the very same shots and is just fine and doesn’t remember the pain at all, which he insists we are wrong about, by the way. Later, while I was sitting in the bathroom during his shower, thinking back through it, I cried (of course) and he heard me (of course) and asked why I was crying. I told him I just loved him so much, just the way he is, and he said, “Mommy, get a tissue and wipe your happy tears FIRST because you don’t want to get snot near your eyes.” Thanks for bringing me back, son.
Do you follow Hands Free Mama (Rachel Macy Stafford) on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/TheHandsFreeRevolution or her blog called the Hands Free Revolution? Her advice about how to be present in the moments that matter most is not to be missed. She made a post on her Facebook page on April 4 about how a preschool teacher once told her she was going to need to toughen up her tenderhearted daughter or life would be tough for her, and I can say that as the parent of a tenderhearted boy I have heard more than my fair share of similar comments. It’s a great post, you should check it out. I started following her recently and found myself really taking a good hard look at my use of technology in front of Aaron and the way it impacts our relationships. I am not affiliated with her or her blog in any way, just a fan speaking my mind is all.
Thanks for reading. Have missed this darn thing. :)