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.