Friday, August 19, 2011
I'm happy to report day 1 was wildly successful! I've always loved when Caelan shares stories about his day and now I have 2 of them to listen to. This may make me sound shallow to some people but I want to hear the interpersonal stuff first. First and foremost, what happened that was funny. It may come from my own days in school of being a clown. I'm selective about which of those stories I share with my kids. They definitely have not heard of the day I made farm animal noises every time the band teacher turned his back until the chaos from the laughing in the classroom left him marching out of the room wiping his eyes. (I'm so sorry Mr. VanHorn. I was an obnoxious brat that day.) So I don't know if it just comes naturally to me to be curious about the silly stuff or if it's because I'm a happy person and I want the "good" stuff first.
Getting the silly stuff out of the way seems to help with distractions, too. Get it all out there and when it's time to talk about school work there are fewer, "Oh! Guess what ____ did!" And if you're reviewing spelling errors, requiring corrections to be made, and all of a sudden the conversation turns to, "No one likes me. I'm the new kid and life is hard at school," you have ammo. You have happy stories from their own mouth to pitch right back at them. Will got introduced to that one last night. The spelling words were corrected in less than 5 minutes.
So some things about parenting just seem easy to me. Getting them focused on the task at hand, preventing manipulation, training them to show respect. Everyone should focus on what they are doing and give their best effort. No one should be allowed to get away with manipulation. Everyone should show respect. Period. My struggles come with the things where there are no hard and fast rules. The part of life where you have to deal with diversity. Diversity in music. Diversity in clothing styles. Diversity in values. Diversity in home life that shape those values. The emotions that these things bring out are my struggle.
I am so not a politically correct person. If you choose to share a piece of yourself with the world, you better be prepared and willing to deal with the consequences, good or bad. Especially if you're in-your-face about it. We've always tried to make our kids understand that not everyone in your life is going to like you. Some people are just ugly inside and they don't like anyone. But most people are "normal" yet something about your personality rubs them the wrong way and they just plain don't care for you. And more importantly, we try to help them accept that that is ok. We remind them that there are people who they don't care for as well. You're to be nice but how you really feel is typically obvious. It's one of the ugly truths about human nature. That all being said, be who you are and as long as who you are is in line with God's will according to what we find in His word, don't spend too much time on those who don't get you.
Every once in a while I run into a situation where I have to say, "Ignore what I said! This one is NOT worth it!" Those are hard. Maybe I'm wrong but I give in to the part of me that is protective mother. The shirt Will is wearing in this photo brought me face-to-face with one of those situations. Will knew he wanted it before we even set foot in Walmart on school shopping day. We went straight back to the boys department in search of it, distracted only for a few minutes by the scratch-and-sniff t-shirts. Will picked up the shirt with a banana on it, a shirt that was too big and left part of the banana sitting below his waist and started saying in an innocent but alluring way, "Smell my banana. You know you want to smell my banana." The crude teenage tomboy of my past that I try in vain sometimes to suppress escaped, and I found myself uncontrollably laughing with my teenage boy whom I'm supposed to be training not to be a crude teenage boy.
We found the M&M shirts on the clearance rack, threw the orange one into the shopping cart, and went on our way. It wasn't until a few days later that dissension began brewing. Will came in and said he needed a few more things for school. Long white pants and white gloves to wear with his M&M t-shirt. My memories of my Mr. Bill t-shirt that I wore every day for an entire month in 6th grade and the horror I felt when a schoolmate whom I ran into 20 years later said, "Hey! Remember your Mr. Bill shirt? You wore that every day for like a month. We always wondered if you washed it." And in Kindergarten the day I decided to wear perfume. Christina, who was one of those plain ugly-inside people, drew the attention of everyone in the coat closet when she yelled, "WHAT is that smell?!!" followed by standing nose to nose with me and laying down the law that I was NEVER to wear that perfume again. Ever. White pants and gloves with an M&M t-shirt, that's an outfit that's grounds for a life-long memory. It may build character but I'd rather he continue learning that by wearing his tennis shoes that have been labeled "grandpa shoes", not by wearing white gloves to school! He doesn't understand there are degrees of consequences for being different. Wearing white gloves to school when you're 9 is off the chart and a battle probably not worth heading into.
We argued for a good while over the gloves. Caelan came into the room and heard white gloves. His eyes got huge and he said, "NO! You CANNOT wear white gloves to school!" It was 2 against one and it ended with Will, tears streaming down his face, saying, "I don't care what people think of me." Fortunately (and unfortunately), I had stories from his experience last year with a boy that's just plain ugly on the inside and all the days he sent Will home from art and music class in tears. Generally Will doesn't care what people think. The ridicule that would follow going to school (with hundreds of kids you don't know yet) on an ordinary day dressed like an M&M, he'd care. So the answer was no.
When I later shared the story with Shawn, I saw one of those moments I love where he laughs until he can't talk. When he regained his composure he said, "Just call me Michael Snackson." Point proven. Kids are keen on finding a label that sticks for life. Just ask Dopey Piper, a local man in his 70s who played Dopey in a grade school Snow White play. I'm not sure anyone knows his real name anymore. I'd done my job and done it well. I saved Will from a life of difficulty finding a wife, a job, and deep, meaningful friendships. I saved him from a life of being known as Michael Snackson.