Thursday, February 23, 2012

When Your Kid is the One

I hesitate to write about this because of my pride and my protectiveness of my little people's privacy, but something tells me there is another Mom somewhere that needs to read this.

I have a kid with a strong and often challenging personality. He is off-the-charts Type A. He is bright, articulate, strategic--truly a natural born leader. He has a lot of trouble simply playing a game, he wants to lead it. When he reads or learns something, he wants to tell everyone about it. When he makes a discovery, he needs to share it. He has a deep-seeded desire to be first--at everything. He is passionate, opinionated, confident and he really values being heard. He is awesome and exhausting.

One day, I pray, all of these characteristics will serve him very well--but they can make for hard days in first grade. This has been a challenging year for him at school, marked by lots of card changes and some playground pecking order issues. Some of his friendships are being effected as other kids are 'rounding out his rough edges' by not playing with him when he is being difficult.

I really, really want to be a Mama that coaches my children through things without swooping in to 'rescue' them when there is a character/life lesson to be learned. Some days that is harder than others. Like today when he came home and reported that his friends don't want to play with him because he "is acting like a jerk."

Yep, that feeling you just had well up inside...that was my first reaction too. Then I gulped hard as I realized that my son was 'that kid' (at least today). You know 'that kid,' the one parents spend time at night counseling their kids in how to handle. I wondered if parents had been at home talking with their kids about mine, "Well, if he keeps acting that way, just find someone else to play with."

It would be dishonest to say I haven't had similar conversations with my children before about a child who was giving them a hard time. It is a natural consequence that will lead to more socially acceptable behavior--and adhering to the norms of the group. It is real life.

But it all feels so different when your kid is the one.

I want my boy to grow up to be the man God has in mind. I know there are many lessons to be learned along the way--knees that will be scraped and egos that will be bruised (in some cases both his and mine!) and that sometimes (usually), reacting and/or rescuing may not be the wisest choice at all.

Tonight we had a chat. I assured him that I know he is kind and smart and loving--that he is absolutely not a jerk...but we talked about how certain actions and choices may give people the wrong idea of what was in our hearts.

I told him that I know he has a lot of good things to say and ideas he is excited to share, but that his friends do too. I encouraged him to let others lead and see what good ideas they may have. He looked at me with absolute sincerity in those big brown eyes and said, "Mama, I know all this. It is just SO HARD to remember to do it sometimes."

I hugged him and kissed him because I GET IT.

And so tonight, as the Mama of 'that kid' I just want to tell you that we are working on it. He's only been in this world 7 years, so we have a ways to go. I have 30 years on him and am still rounding out some similar rough edges on a daily basis.

On other days my other kids will be "the one." And sooner or later your kids will be too. So let's not overlook the areas that need work, but let's do be gentle with each other--striving to support each other as we guide these little hearts and lives through the process that refines them into the men and women God intends.


davec777 said...

My son has been the "one" also. He has a strong personality and loves to lead. Pre-K, Kindergarten and first grade have been a challenge so far. But I do see him changing and maturing. The Lord isn't finished with him yet =)

Diane Tohline said...

Thank God for the PROCESS. I had one too. He wanted to be right and perfect.... And never wrong. I use make him say. It's ok to make a mistake! Stay with it. God matches right parents to children.

Love Being A Nonny said...

I had one of those....still do. He is in his 30's and still has those rough edges and that competitive spirit. I tried to tone him down and smooth those edges out but, it's who he is. He is a married man with children now so, he made it. And underneath those edges is the man who always greets every person in a crowded room. He always tells me he loves me before we hang up the phone and he will probably be the one by my side rubbing my hand when I am taking my last breathes. He probably *needs*me more than the others...though it's not what his actions show. He has never had the most friends, but he has the BIGGeST heart. And Jesus is pleased with that....this mom is too.

Hang in there....keep giving life lessons. There is a lot of hurt along the way. I use to think I was the only one hurting, but he hurt too. I will remember to pray for yours as I pray for mine. It will be ok. Promise.

Immeasurably More Mama said...

I get this...I really do. :)

Immeasurably More Mama said...

I get this...I really do. :)

Ginny said...

Jen, I'm sure I'm not the first to suggest it, but you should write a book. You've not only got the special gift of communicating and painting this unforgettable picture of life, but you also say words that are God-filled and powerful to help so many. One day I believe you will...OR you could be on a large speaking circuit sharing these great truths. You are such an awesome wife, mother, friend, minister, and human being!!!

The Ryan's said...

I agree with Ginny! You really should write a book! We've never met, but I really enjoy reading your blog. I'm still relatively new to this Mommy thing. :) I appreciate the wisdom and thoughfulness that you put into your posts.
P.S. I WAS "that kid". It was hard and is sometimes still hard even though I've matured enough to be able to "give others a turn". As an adult I see the positives to having this personality and am learning to embrace the things that make me, me. Praying for you and your little ones!

Lesli said...

I too had one of those kids, who always wanted to be first, the best and share his ideas. We had lots of "those" talks over dinners and still do. He is a senior and has figured out how to put that competitive spirit into work as he will graduate with above a 4.0 and just signed his acceptance card to become part of the West Point Class of 2016. Lots of prayers have and will be continued to be lifted up as he ventures into this next journey. I love your mothering and sharing. God's richest Blessings!

Jill said...

God bless your momma heart. It's so hard as a mom to decide when to get involved and when to just hug the child who has been hurt.
One lesson I've been talking a lot with my girls about is that you can't always judge a child for how they are acting today; we are all a work in progress. The geek of today will be the Bill Gates of tomorrow and the wallflower today will be Robin Roberts of the future.

Hang in there. Keep on praying that the "child" you see everyday and the heart you know so well that others will see too. They will!

Pam said...

One piece of advice I have is to try (easy to say, difficult to do) to not "ride" the social roller coaster w/ him. Try to keep your own feet firmly planted on the ground, and not be too happy (relieved?) when there's a social success, or too devastated when he comes home and describes a difficult social situation. Otherwise you are going to get whiplash, and if you are able to stay centered and measured about all of the social ups and downs, you will be in a better place to guide him through. Also! Never ever "interview" your child for pain (emotional social pain)....this is something I'm working on--not easy.

JMom said...

Such good words of wisdom and encouragement. Thank you!! Whew, motherhood!!

Meaghan said...

i literally haven't read your blog in a year (i used to read all the time but i've been on a bit of an internet hiatus ;) i just opened it up and this is what i read. i've been struggling with my oldest son, also 7 in march and in first grade. he's totally THAT kid! principles office twice. did i mention he's in first grade? anywho, it's been disappointing and difficult, but i too see God working and changing him. but it's been haaaaaard. especially when you feel so responsible as a parent who's read "all the right books" ;) i'm just praying for him all the time. he's gonna be great someday, when it all gets harnessed for good :) xoxo

Bernice said...

Thank you for a beautiful article.
I have a beautifu 7 year old Grandson who is "That Kid".He was like your little one and all the others,fellow classmates would make fun of him, a parent even suggested he not participate in sports as he had had a bad practice session,we as Grandparents thought he needed more discilpline as he would yell and argure, throwing fits etc,it was not until he entered Kindergarten that a wonderful Principal suggested he be tested and found out that he has Asperger syndrome,a form of Autism. We and his teachers, and coach now know why he does/acts the way he does at times.
God has blessed us with this intelligent, loving, little boy,we also know now that "that kid" just needs alot of understanding and Love.

Laurie said...

I have been a reader for a while but never commented before now. I have "that kid" here in my house as well. He is an amazing 16 year old that was diagnosed as bi-polar last year. School has never been an easy place for him but he somehow finds a way to muddle through....until recently. The social aspect of school is just escaping him. He has no true friends and the people he thought were at least friendly were overhead talking about how he is the "creepy weird kid" last week. It is so hard not to step in as him mom. He doesn't want us to make any waves and potentially make things worse for him. Struggling to find the right balance here.