There comes a time as a parent when we begin to recognize that the choices we make have a lasting effect on our children. For some it is not until they are adults, others are teenagers, but mine…my oldest…he is an old soul and the evidence is there.
By old soul I mean he has always had this look of age about him. Even though he was 8 weeks premature we called him our old man the day he was born. He is a born thinker. He knows things. He notices changes in attitudes and relationships.
He is just like me.
But he is also just like his dad.
He is moody. He lashes out instead of exhibiting a bit of self-control. He loves music. He is a born musician. He loves karate.
He is angry.
This hit me at 10:30 this morning after a call from his teacher.
He was in reading circle this morning and supposedly without provocation just hauled off and hit a girl this morning. He not only knows he is going to get in trouble at school. He knows that he is going to get in trouble at home. So, when I get the call from his teacher I am – for a moment – floored by his behavior.
I ask the basics.
“Was he provoked?” “No”
“Was he having any other sort of outburst?” “No.”
I speak…or should I say try to speak to Elijah. He offers nothing but a whimper.
He knows that what he did was wrong and he knows that it is not a good day. He will not be meeting his goal of getting a green for his behavior today. He’s in kindergarten and they grade behavior is a color based system. His goal everyday is to be green.
Since changing sitters to an old friend of the family, his behavior has been amazing. He has gotten green almost every day. The last week though…it’s like a different child is there.
I am wracking my brain after I hang up with the teacher…what is changed? What is different?
Then it hits me like a ton of bricks.
He is angry with life.
For starters the safety of the home we had built in New York. He was three when we moved there and was five when we left. He loved it there. He loved his school, his friends, and his life in the snow.
We move here and his dad leaves us. Or do we leave his dad?
We move, then have to move again, then we settle in and that’s when the losses begin. Last year we lost Troy and Nanny. My other losses he doesn’t know, so they don’t hit him the same way. But for a while Troy was like a father to him and Nanny…Nanny was the grandmother he had seen almost every day since birth. Except for the months we spent in NY.
The thing about his dad’s leaving is that I don’t want him to have this man he knows to be his father somewhere, but whom he never sees. I know the pain of that. My parents split when I was young and the knowledge always in the back of your head that he is somewhere…it hurts. Every time you think about it is like a knife to the heart. You can’t help but blame yourself for them leaving. You always wonder if you were perfect if they would come back.
He is his mother’s child. So much.
He acts out now the same way I acted out as a child. It is hard for the friends that grew up with me in Burnet to understand, but most of elementary school I spent in detention. I repeated fifth grade. I had behavioral issues because of the life that existed around me. At that point I decided to be absolutely perfect. Always doing what I was told. Always behaving.
I knew I was smarter than the behavior. I had to prove it to myself. I was 10 years old.
Elijah is only 5. I don’t want him to have to wait that long to know that nothing is his fault.
His behavior is completely removed from what is happening in life. He has a right to his feelings. He has a right to be upset. He needs to talk to me or to a counselor.
He is so perfect. So amazing. So wonderful. I don’t want him to think anything other than about the wonders of life.
I want him to be happy.
I know that I realistically have no control over his emotions, but I can help him understand them. I can help him recognize them.
I spoke to his counselor. I spoke to his teacher. I will be picking him up in a little while and we are going to spend a little time talking. I think a trip to the beach is in order as long as the rain holds. We love the beach. We feel happy and safe there. Listening to the constant roar of the waves on the sand. Steady, dependable, you can count on them to be there every time you see them.
Parents are human. They are less dependable. They are your parents forever, but they are flawed. They don’t have all the answers. They don’t recognize what they’re doing until the children are lashing out.
I’m kicking myself for the things that could have been different…but I can’t change them. I can simply teach my son that I’m flawed. His dad is flawed. But it doesn’t matter because we love him.
Whatever else is going on we both love him. Will always love him.
I will always be there for him.
I will not let anything keep him from finding his happiness.