Chip Off the Old Block
I was always a good student. I seriously was. I was one of those quiet, perfectly behaved girls who pored over her books and answered questions in class, beaming when I pleased the teacher. I was quiet and never got in trouble. Yes. One of those.
My children. Ehhhhh.
I guess I always assumed that my kids would be like, little mini me’s. I assumed that they would wake up with a smile on their faces, shouting “Good morning beloved Mother! How may I make you proud today?!?” I imagined them reading novels in kindergarten and doing SAT prep in 2nd grade. How about graduating from high school at age 11? The world’s youngest genius!!! I could see the headlines . . . “Child GENIUS shatters new records for math and astrophysics! President personally offers college scholarship . . .” I pictured my little geniuses requesting dictionaries for birthdays and winning every award in school. *drifts off with a happy smile on my face . . .
The reality, however, was a little bit different. *a little bit.* hehe.
My son is 5 years old. He’s not such a huge fan of sitting still. He gets in trouble almost every day at preschool because he doesn’t want to sit still and listen to the lesson. The first time the teacher called me aside with *that look* on her face, I was horrified. “MY kid was being bad? Are you SURE? Ohmygoodnessgracious I will take care of this IMMEDIATELY. Like, you blink and he will be a new child tomorrow.”
Mortified with embarrassment.
Then again a few weary days later . . . “I’m sorry. Your son still seems to be having a little trouble sitting still. He likes to keep playing and doesn’t want to come inside when it’s time to learn.”
He was also resistant to potty training. He didn’t want to stop playing to use the potty. “Why, when I have a diaper on, would I stop playing to go pee?” This was an absolutely pointless conundrum that blew his mind. haha.
I used to pray with everything I had. I promised God that if Christopher could learn to use the potty, then I would never ask for anything again as long as I lived. I tried letting him change his own diapers (Christopher, not God. hehe). I used rewards charts with stickers. I begged, pleaded, wept. Bribed, yelled, cried. I saw myself as the dismal example that all mothers held up to their children to horrify them with the consequences of not giving up the pull ups . . . “You remember Christopher Baltimore, don’t you? He was 35 years old before he got potty trained. Had to pack Pull Ups on his honeymoon. SHAMEFUL.” I had a nightmare once that Christopher went to college, and we packed him an entire U-haul fill of diapers. “I hope this is enough for his first semester,” I worried. bwahaha.
Thank goodness we eventually got the potty training thing down. One day he just decided “I want to be a big boy and use the potty.” Like it was the most unique thought in the world. “Mom, why didn’t you think of this sooner?” *colossal eye roll. And he did it himself. In one day. Please, just visualize my head, sprouting a fresh crop of gray hairs. I think when Christopher decided he was done with diapers, the heavens opened and the angels sang. I know I did.
Now, when I drive up to school, I can instantly spot Christopher on the playground. The other kids huddle in groups, mostly in the shade. They are afraid of bugs and don’t like the heat. We have raised ourselves a generation of kids that are allergic to the outside, and it’s sad. My son is always in the middle of the playground– sometimes with friends and sometimes without. But he is ALWAYS running. ALWAYS sweaty and grinning. ALWAYS filthy and happy as a lark. He is never happier than when he is outside running around. And each day when I go to pick him up, the teacher gives me *the look* again. “I’m sorry Mrs. Baltimore– do you have a minute?” And I know. Ohhhhh he’s done it again.
“Christopher had trouble sitting still today. He didn’t want to sit at his desk and do the word puzzle. He sat on time out because he didn’t want to behave.” I am no longer surprised by this. I am no longer clinging to the hope (well, maybe a LITTLE bit) that my kids will be just like me and love to sit and read. Maybe, someday, they will. But for now, they’re kids. They’re just kids. And they like to run. They like to play outside.
If there is one thing I have learned about kids, it’s that we, as their parents, really don’t have that much control over how our kids turn out. Of course, we do our best to love them. To teach them right from wrong. To punish them when they need it, without being so severe that we break their spirits. It’s a constant balancing act. And the irony of the situation is that we cannot truly be blamed if our kids don’t like to read, anymore than we can take credit if they do. Our job, as their parents, is to love and support them, no matter what, and teach them to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Themselves. Not us.
Maybe the teacher sees the kid who won’t ever sit still. And, yes, he is that. Sigh. But I see something else, too. I see a little boy who has a permanent smile and notices every detail. If we take a walk, we MUST STOP AND SMELL EVERY SINGLE FLOWER THAT WE PASS. It’s a law in his world. Stop and smell the roses. Literally. If someone is crying, he insists on rushing to her side and giving her a hug. He loves to be outside and hates to stop playing when it’s time for supper. He could jump on the trampoline for hours. He will share any toy, any snack, and yes (cringe) any booger with anyone who cares to see it. Ick. haha. His smile lights up my heart, and he brings me such joy every day.
I see him for his spunky, rambunctious, wild, loving, adorable 5 year old boy self. And I absolutely adore what I see– every part. Whether he likes to sit still or not. 😉
And I think that’s all that really matters. <3
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