Monday, 21 March 2011

'Stick With It' or Just 'Stick It'?

I know there are certain universally accepted “mom rules” the infamous “They” say we have to teach our kids: 

Respect your elders
Don’t talk with your mouth full
Don’t stick peas up your nose
Never give up

I thought I was doing a decent job at sharing these lessons (hey, an occasional jammed pea can be overlooked!) but lately I had to question whether or not I was actually making the grade. For the past two years, my little guy has been kicking butt in taekwondo (literally!). He took to it immediately and sailed through the various belts with ease… and a big smile on his face.
I was there as he beamed with pride upon mastering his first “jump sidekick”…. I was there when he aced the first tournament he entered... I was there when he finally clued in that hugging his taekwondo “Master” probably isn’t the coolest greeting ever…

Unfortunately, I was also there when he started complaining about six months ago that he didn’t want to go anymore. Really? He’s worked so hard and has earned himself a brown belt – notable AND fashionable! Seriously, he’s only four belts away from achieving his black belt – and he wants to quit now??

As parents, we teach them to stick with things… to persevere… to ‘Go for the Gold’… So, when are they allowed to teach us that perhaps there’s no shame in packing it in? Am I worried about the fact that he’s ‘giving up’? Or that I didn’t work hard enough to convince him to stay? 

As my only child (insert shocked gasps here!), maybe I’ve placed a bit too much importance on these kinds of decisions and how they will ultimately shape (or not) the person he becomes.

Which lesson carries the greatest amount of weight - Teaching them determination & seeing things through to the end? Or learning to find your own voice and deciding where your own interests truly lie?

Quitting is seen as a bad thing. But maybe the definition needs a bit of an overhaul. Maybe it’s less about walking away from something and more about just changing the direction you’re walking. 

Either way, I know I’ll always be incredibly proud of my little “mini-Martial Arts Master” no matter what he ends up doing… even if its just leaving his peas on his plate!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Who's Your Daddy?

I’m pretty sure my son came out of the womb asking “Why”. Seriously. While most little kids his age were singing their “A-B-C’s”, my kid was busting out the “Y-Y-Y’s”! Unlike Dear Ol’ Dad, I can’t tune him out when he asks so I’m sure I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time explaining everything from Why daylight lasts longer in the Summer to Why boogers are so slimy (good question!). The infamous “They” say that you’re supposed to encourage a child’s natural curiousity, so I’m pretty sure I’ve earned my Black Belt in answering questions.

I should have realized the questions were only going to get more difficult (although the slimy booger thing did stump me). But I figured I’d be able to handle it. After all, wasn’t I the mom who was able to somewhat explain the concept of the Civil Rights movement to my inquisitive little 5-year old after a million questions about “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day”?

I also should have known that the  question was coming…
“Mommy, who’s your Daddy?”

Nope, not in a funky, slang kind of way. He really wanted to know. Let me start by saying that he has been blessed with an absolutely amazing Grandpa – my stepdad – who is an awesome Wii partner / skating teacher / swimming buddy / and all around great guy. My dad, on the other hand? Not so much. For a number of reasons I don’t fully understand, he’s chosen not to be a part of our lives – we haven’t spoken in over 10 years. He didn’t attend my wedding and he’s never laid eyes on my son. I have sent cards and pictures every Christmas, and have even left random voicemails on occasion to try and set up “the talk”. Nothing.

So, as an adult, I can rationalize, justify, explain and excuse all night long (seriously, I’m pretty good at it!) – but having to tell my innocent little boy who is the centre of his family’s world that there is actually a person who has absolutely no desire to have anything to do with him… that’s where it gets me. I realize I’m a tad biased but it breaks to my heart to know that someone is missing out on the sheer joy and blessing of having the most wonderful, curious, intelligent, sensitive, funny, amazing little boy in their life.

So that’s what I told him. I looked into his inquisitive, beautiful brown eyes and told him that my dad was the one who was missing out. That sometimes people make choices that we can’t understand but they’re entitled to make them. And fortunately he’s surrounded by people who choose to love him more than life itself.

Was that the right answer? Who knows… but at least we’ve moved beyond boogers…

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