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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ben and the big guy

Much to my chagrin, the closest and most convenient store to where we live is Walmart. I'm not getting into why I dislike Walmart, but alas, I'm a hypocrite because I find myself there regularly. 

Luckily Ben listens to me pretty well while we are there. It may or may not have anything to do with a Dunkin Donuts bribe. But I let my now 3 year old run free because he always stays in my sight. He loves to look at people and run fast and giggle and point of every Batman or other thing of interest he sees. 

This pointing things out is usually adorable and makes me laugh a little. Until the inevitable little guy observation that mortifies parents and stops them in their tracks. Ok. It did for me. 

There was a gentleman at Walmart the other day who was rather large in size. I don't mean 7 feet tall, but morbidly obese. Walking was obviously difficult for him. I heard other customers commenting under their breath. Judgemental things. I felt bad for him. 

Then my son stops his running and points at this gentleman and yells "big guy!!!" Twice. The "big guy" obviously heard him. The entire store must have heard him. My heart stopped and I was the most embarrassed parent in the world for a split second. Internally I was panicking. "Oh my God! What has he done!" 

It's amazing how fast your brain can flow through approximately 1 million thoughts in the matter of  2 seconds. Luckily One thought included remembering that my son was only 2 and just making one of his observations. This brought my blood pressure down a little. 

And I responded with the first somewhat not horrible thing to say. 

I asked Ben to "say 'hi' to the guy"

And Ben said "hi guy"

And the guys face, whose looked equally as mortified, perked up a little, and waved and said "hi" back to my son. We smiled at each other, the big guy and I, and moved on. 

I have no idea what the guy thought of this interaction. Or how many people remind him of his size on a regular basis. My heart hurt for him afterwards. 

I don't know that I can fully explain why I chose the response that I did. 
I can think of a few intelligent counselor-y answers to explain myself in retrospect. Like I didn't want to shame Ben or didn't want big guy to feel worse or sometimes people feel invisible and want to be "seen" as a person, not just a "big guy". 

But that would not be honest.

In a situation sometimes, you just respond. 

But as I ponder what happened, it does make me more thoughtful of other future such encounters. Ben is 3 now and still very observant. Baby will be doing the same things before I can even blink my eye. 

How do I teach them in simple ways to be themselves, be honest but also honor other peoples existence and feelings. 

These little moments mean something. Even if I don't know how yet. 

My Lord, parenting is a trip. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Rejection

The other week one of the few shows I care to watch on television came to an end. I liked Parenthood because I felt like I was watching real people, like neighbors or someone I would know , go through real problems, and fight through them, sometimes making difficult or unpopular decisions. No murders or gore or violence or whatever. 

So this week I decided to revisit the shows beginning for lack of interest in anything else to watch. 

Already in the second episode, I found myself really resonating with one issue one character was struggling with. Julia, the lawyer sister, who generally is not my favorite, was struggling with their daughter. Nothing crazy like drugs or acting out, but in a way that I am struggling with my almost 3 year old right now. 

Every time Julia goes to do anything with or for their daughter Sydney, Sydney rejects her and asks for their dad to do it. Tucking into bed, playing with, cutting up food, whatever. 

And so it is in my house. Perhaps it's a phase, and like Julia, I am trying desperately to put up a brave and accepting face. But being continually rejected by the apple of your eye flipping hurts. 

Now I am aware that it is a good thing that my son loves his dad so much. I want them to be close. I know he misses his dad during the day. And we have had big change recently with the new baby. And we also have fun and play together and do projects at home during the day. We hug and help baby and I make sure baby naps and we get one on one time. 

But once his dad gets home, I cease to exist. 

It's been a season of growth for me in this. I usually do not take a rejection or perceived rejection well. Partly my family history includes a bombardment of that feeling. So when rejection happens, it stings old wounds. And I react my either getting on my high horse or running away/avoiding or rejecting in return.  Or something else equally unhealthy or ungracious. 

However these go-to or usual internal responses (which turn into external responses) would have some dire consequences. I cannot run away from or avoid my son. Not do I want to. I love him too much. There is no high horsing or yelling or sarcasm, because he doesn't understand. I don't want to make him feel bad/guilty. I want him to learn to express emotions learn healthier ways to respond to conflict than I did. There can be no rejection/guilt etc in return from me, or else let the cycle continue. 

No. 

 My son is teaching me to accept rejection. Graciously. To love even if it stings a little. To get over myself a little. And to maybe help heal those old wounds. 

I thought I was supposed to be teaching him.