Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

My little Mooch has turned into a bit of a fibber.  I know it sounds naive but I am shocked he’s turned to lying.  My oldest, Cub, has never been a liar- almost to a fault, if that’s possible.  So I was quite shocked last week when I popped in to his kindergarten class and the teacher approached me asking if we were “all packed”…  For what?  For your trip- and are you really going to swim with sharks?  That’s so exciting!  Ahh… No.  And what the hell are you talking about?

At first, it just started with little things, like what someone had said.  But today it was down right lying.

Mooch: Today on the bus, a big kid got on the bus and said Little kids have to sit in the front! and pointed at me.

Me: Really?  Who was he?  What did you say?

Mooch: Well, I told him to Zip it.

Me: Wow. What did he do?

Mooch: He walked away.  Oh and you don’t have to ask Cub about it because he was there…

Me: What do you mean by that…?  If I ask him about it, would he tell me the story the same way?

Mooch: Um.  No…  He actually didn’t hear anything.

Me: So he didn’t hear this but he was sitting in the same seat as you?

Mooch: Right.

Me: Riiiight.

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What the hell kid?  He’s such a little fibber!  I know kids fib because they are insecure and looking for praise, acceptance and admiration.  Right now, this poor bug is trying so hard to fit in with his friends.  It’s hard to see him so insecure right now.  He’s always been my kiddo who was so sure of himself, easily befriending anyone who showed interest.  I still remember the love note I wrote to him on the eve of his kindergarten registration… It’s happening… And it’s heartbreaking to see his self-esteem plummet.

We talked up kindergarten so much.  He was so excited.  You’ll make so many friends!  You’re going to have so much fun!  Kindergarten is going to be a blast…  In hindsight, maybe we talked it up too much.  (Damn hindsight!  Where were you a couple of months ago?!)  I think he’s feeling let down.  And I think I caused it.  We wanted him to be so excited about kindergarten that we talked it up constantly.  We didn’t leave out the parts about how something new can make us nervous, or that it will take some time to get used to a new school with a new teacher and new friends.  We did say those things too but I think we played up the fun factor and he was really excited… Only to be disappointed.  Kindergarten is hard work.  It’s not easy to make new friends.  It’s tough to listen and focus for hours on end.  It’s a challenge to remember where your backpack/lunch bag/coat/ homework folder are supposed to go.  It’s hard to belong.

The fibbing is a symptom of a much larger ailment brewing.  Insecurity is ugly.  And right now this virus is coursing through his veins.  Telling his class about going on a vacation to swim with sharks made him feel special.  Made him feel cool.  Maybe made the other kids like him… Is it sick that I want to go with him and sit with him when he’s lonely?  Hold his hand when he’s scared, hug him when he’s been hurt?  The thought of him needing these things from me and not being there to provide them, is about the worse feeling imaginable in all of Mamahood.  I want to be there every second to say the right thing and make sure he’s always okay.  I know it’s irrational.  I know there are some Mamas who would say that we both need to suck it up.  But I don’t care how bat-shit-crazy it sounds.  I wish I could be by his side in case he needs me.

I need to trust that I have done my job well.  And that’s hard- especially when I lay in bed, feeling like I have failed in some capacity about fifty percent of the time.  How do I know I am doing the right thing?  Parenting is such a tough job.  And I am so scared that I am fucking up these perfect little souls.  Like I am unintentionally ruining them.  I need to trust that I have done my job well.  And I need not own my poor Mooch’s feelings of insecurity but empower him to be the amazing little human he was born to be.

Tonight, I overheard him tell his brother that he wished he was a fast runner like another kid.  I took the opportunity to say the following:

If you want to run faster, challenge yourself to run faster- but only if that’s what you truly want.  People are best at the things they love.  If you love to run, you will be fast.  And if you love to draw, you will be a wonderful artist.  Please don’t try to be anyone other than who you are.  Because you are such a gift.  And others will like you for you.  

Silence.  Breathing in the moment and thinking that I may have filled his little heart with hope and love, I watched him.

Mama, Graham said that some ladies have a lot of hair in their pits and some don’t.  Can I see yours?  My pits?  You want to see my pits?  Yup.

Seriously.  I give up.

Peace, Mamas.

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The Beginning of Really Living

This evening, I was able to witness my lovely niece’s graduation from the eighth grade.  As I sat in the jam packed, sweltering gymnasium, clapping on cue, attempting to keep my husband from dying of hunger and trying not to gawk at the short skirts (dear lord!), it occurred to me: This is the Beginning.  The Beginning of Really Living.  These children will go on to become doctors who will treat me when I am old, they will become educators who will teach my grandchildren, they will become scientists, astronomers, mayors, bus drivers, business owners, counselors.  They will become parents who will raise children of their own who will one day walk across that stage and take a diploma in hand.  The Beginning.

After the diplomas had been passed out, the children stood, we clapped some more.  Husband is now convinced he may be fading further into starvation.  The principal announced his closing speech.  He spoke to his (now, former) students about going out into the world; he encouraged them to sincerely show gratitude to the family, teachers, friends who had helped them become the amazing young people they were today.  And then he asked his own daughter who was seven years old to come and sit with him and look at the class of 2017.  He explained to her that they had had some struggles with homework, tests, classes, teachers, each other.  But that they had certainly had a lot of fun too.  This principal, as he spoke to his graduated class, spoke as a parent.  Effortlessly and from the heart.  And not only did this group of silly, emotional, excited barely teenagers listen intently to every word which left the man’s mouth, his daughter did too.

As a Mama of a seven year old, I envy the opportunity to fully captivate my son in a lesson which may quite possibly last him his lifetime.  Have fun.  Be a kid.  School is so important.  When something seems to big you don’t think you can get through it, you always will.  Ask for help when you require it and space when you need it.  Our children are going to become powerful, inspiring, helpful humans.  And it is our job to guide them.  These students are on the cusp of high school where their new challenges will be peer pressure, drugs, sex and an array of  bad choices.  Like a new world of opportunity, these temptations spread before them as part of the landscape.  The choices they make as young adults, are shaped by the values we instill in them through their childhood.  It is so important.  It is so important.

So that next time I want to give up.  Check out from being a parent for a bit, I will try to remind myself of just how important it is to be the most responsive, patient, loving and determined parent I can be.  Do I want them to see that Mama checks out when shit gets tough?  Um, nope.  They watch us.  They are witness to every fit of anger, ever exasperated sigh, every swear muttered under our breath, every eye roll, every snide comment and the negative energy that seeps from our pores.  We worry about violence, the media and video games but the truth is, our children see the ugly from us.  And that’s depressing.  But it’s also empowering.  Why?  Because we can control all of those things.  And that is freeing.

Tonight, this principal took the time to be a parent.  He showed his adorable, sweet little girl the good he was sending out into the world.  He told her about the wonderful things these students would do.  And all they would become.  As she stared up at him, shiny blonde curls falling around her soft pink cheeks, she became convinced that she would become one of these gifted, inspiring graduates one day too.  It begins with us.  This was a lesson for me.  Crazy breeds crazy but positvity leads to opportunity.  We can give our children that opportunity.  It’s worth it.  They are worth the investment.  This is the Beginning of the Really Living.

Peace, Mamas.