Yeah! What she says!

Yeah! What she says!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What Your Children Have Taught You

I have always believed that children teach adults far more valuable lessons than most think they do. Some are simple lessons that we had already learned, but forgotten, or neglected to apply to a current situation. Other lessons have floored me, and left me with my mouth ajar and speechless. Our children are amazingly smart individuals, who are very observant after all.

I thought that I would just quickly write down some of the things that I have learned from my son. I am sure I am going to leave out some, but these were on my mind and it many cases brought me a smile.

1. Several years ago, (one of) my best friend's mother passed away after a long battle with cancer. She was a wonderful woman, and like a second mother to me. I had three moms. One was the amazing lady who gave birth to me, and the other two were the amazing women who gave birth to my two best friends. (Both of my best friends lost their mother's to Cancer, sadly.) The losses of both of my best friend's mothers were felt deeply by me. I still miss both moms a great deal. At least all three of us still have my mom.

On the night I got the call, my son was perhaps seven at the time. I was crying. I was remembering the good times, and tormented by how much mom must have suffered. I was hurting for my friend who lost his mother, and grieving for the pain I knew he must be feeling. Short story, I was a mess.

My little boy, came over to me. Put his arms around me, and said,

"Mom, it is OK. She isn't in pain anymore and God will take care of her. She is in a better place. Here is a Kleenex. Blow your nose and take your glasses off before you get them all dirty."

At that point, as a mom, you don't know whether to laugh or cry anymore. Most of the time, you do a little of both.

2. When Captain Dramatic's biological father left us, he took two thirds of our income and left all the bills, which were in my name. He also left me with a distraught four year old, and a wounded heart. (Some days I don't know if some of the scars have fully left, but I hear that is to be expected.) I tried so hard to keep my tears and my pain from our son. I knew that seeing my hurt was not helpful to him in any way. I did my grieving at night, alone, or at work, unfortunately. Lucky for me I have some very understanding employers.

During the times when Captain Dramatic was around, I spent my time trying to gloss over the entire subject with a smile, when possible. When it wasn't possible. I would remind Captain Dramatic that his father loved him very much. That being a good loving father did not mean he had to be a good loving husband too. Just because his father no longer loved me, did not mean that he no longer loved and wanted him. I also reminded Captain Dramatic, and still do today for that matter, that he was the best thing that his father and I ever did, and that his birth and existence is not something either of us would ever change.

As I am sure any divorced parent knows, no matter how hard you try, it isn't always possible to be the strong one. You can't always shut it out and pretend. There were times I crumbled. Times I couldn't hold it together. The stress on the financial front, and the pain of watching my son hurt while trying to heal my own hurt and move on was just too much at times. While we were watching TV one night some program or commercial touched that raw spot in my heart, and I just couldn't hold it back. I cried as quietly as I could, and tried to navigate through my tears out of the room. I failed about the time I tripped over some toy I didn't see in the floor, and landed face down in the carpet. Of course, that made it worse. There was no hope in me getting up off the floor until I had myself under control.

The next thing I know, there is a four year old boy sprawled across my back with his arms around my neck and petting my hair. He said,

"It is OK mom. We are gong to be OK. We have Papa and BamMa (my parents) and each other. Dad ran away but we will stay together."

Even having said that, he continued to wake up in the middle of the night for several years though, to come to my room, and make sure I was still there. He was scared that I would leave him too.

3. After my first husband left, I became the mean money miser. I didn't spend money on anything that was a necessity. This was born from months of stress, and trying to make it all work on just my income. I made it all work by doing this, but I was now in the habit of going without. I would never buy anything because it was on sale, because I liked it, because this brand tasted better than that brand, or because sometimes you just need something new to make you feel better. My socks had holes, my hair needed to be cut badly, I needed new shoes for work because the others had just taken a beating over the years. The little guy usually outgrew his stuff before they wore out, and I would cut his hair, so you could never tell by looking at him just how frugal I had become.

One day, we were shopping for groceries and, although I can't remember what it was, there was something that I really liked, and I stopped to look at it. It wasn't expensive at all, and I had started to amass a meager savings by this point, but I still wouldn't have bought it. I didn't truly need it. My son must have picked up on some vibe I was giving off though.

"Mom, you should buy that."

"No hon, I don't really need it."

"So. It isn't a lot of money, and you want it."

"We don't need it."

"Mom, I am disappointed in you. You never do anything just because it makes you smile anymore."

Needless to say, I bought it, and I did it with a smile. Later we went to the movies, and smiled some more over a tub of popcorn.

Life isn't worth muddling through if you can't do something to make yourself smile every once in a while.

4. You know when you are walking through the grocery store, and one of the employees speaks over the intercom system to ask for a price check, or to say "wet clean up is needed on aisle 2"? You know how they always end those announcements with "thank you"? Maybe you haven't noticed. I hadn't. In all my years of grocery shopping I had never paid any attention to the thank you at the end. My son pointed it out, and he reminded me of the importance of this small courtesy.

We were shopping, and he was in the child section of the cart. The intercom spoke and at the end said thank you, and my son yelled, loud enough for the whole store to hear, "you're welcome!" Needless to say we received some chuckles and little praise for his being such a courteous young man.

5. I have learned from my son that the littlest thing can bring a small to the grouchiest of people.

Remember the super bowl commercials for a specific brand of beer? The one where the men were calling each other on the phone and saying "What's up?" a lot? Well, Captain Dramatic loved this commercial. He loved to mimic it too. Often times to my dismay and consternation.

Again, we were in the grocery store. We were in the frozen food aisle, and a man was there also. This man must have been in a bad place that day. He didn't smile at all, scowled, wouldn't make eye contact, and his body language was so tense it unnerved me a bit. It was obvious, that if nothing else, he was having a terrible day. I had every intention of giving him the space it seemed he desired. Captain Dramatic has never been capable of this. Ever. This day in the frozen food aisle was no exception.

He saw the man, who then saw us, and glowered our way. I turned my head and started staring intently on the frozen food in the glass enclosed case before me. I then heard the following in a loudly projected voice, mimicking those we had heard on TV (complete with gravely undertones),

"What's up?"

My head snapped around to gaze at my son, with what I hoped was an appropriate "shut up now" warning glare. As is common, my son was not meeting my eyes and missed the glare. I then looked to the man to apologize, or explain, or something, just in time to see the broadest, and probably the most compelling smile I have ever seen, cross the man's face. I then heard, in the same commercial mimicking gravely tone, and almost as loud as my son had done previously,

"What's up?"

My son giggled that infectious child giggle, that had both the formerly angry man and me laughing. The now smiling man, smiled at me, and my son, and then thanked my son for giving him a reason to smile. My son promptly said, "you're welcome." A few more smiles were exchanged and we all went on our way.

I know I am forgetting at this moment so many of the times I have learned something from my son. Perhaps as they return to me, I will post them.

I would love to hear some of the stories of times when you children have taught you something too. Please share.

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