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My sons’ words

My sons’ words fill my heart.

It’s especially important to acknowledge and drink in kind moments while keenly aware of hurtful ones. It takes work, but it’s essential to being for, not against.

This morning, then, I’m drinking in my son’s words.

When I was ten or eleven years old, I’d sometimes walk a block from home to babysit “Baby David,” a neighborhood toddler.

Unfortunately, he liked grabbing my nipples and yanking them with a twist. He and his mom thought this was hilarious, and ignored my multiple requests to desist.

Fortunately, he also really liked reading. We’d spend some time playing and a lot of time reading. One of my favorite books to read with him was a somewhat grisly but gorgeously illustrated book called The Rainbow Goblins. Its colors stood in such glorious contrast that its pages practically seemed to vibrate. I’d read it over and over and over again just to soak in its colors.

I bought my own copy of the book for my older son’s library when he was a year or two old. He didn’t care for it at all, so that I only read it to him once.

A couple weeks ago, my two-year-old, Littler J, brought me the book to me with a demand: “Read Rainbow Goblins!”

We snuggled together and I savored his every single “ooooooh!” and word as we read it together.

“Circle!” he cried, pointing at a rainbow reflected on the sea. “Water!”

“Mickey!” he exclaimed, pointing at moon and clouds combined to look vaguely like Mickey ears.

“Where goblins?! Oooh, there goblins!”

As my husband snapped a picture of the moment, I savored sharing the book with one of my own sons … and without titty twisters.

reading with j

My husband hooked up his PlayStation for the summer.

Our older son, Li’l D, can earn PlayStation time by writing. This morning, he put periods in funny places to turn two Snoopy red baren Red Baron sentences into four. “Nice try, Sweetie, but this is actually two sentences.”

“Aw, man!” he grumbled. “I don’t wanna write more Red Baron stuff!”

“Think about something you really like, then. Write about that!”

He thought for a moment. “I really like the game player!”

He sat down at his beloved new desk and cranked out a few sentences, returning a couple of minutes later to present me with his notebook.

I pointed out two mistakes so he’d know not to make them next time.

“Dang! I made mistakes.”

“They’re not a big deal. Really. Sometimes I read a blog post five times before I post it, and then I still find mistakes after I publish it! The real thing here is that you only wrote three sentences.”

He scampered off to write another sentence. He returned having added, “I like it.”

“That’s redundant, Sweetie.”

“What’s ‘redundant’?”

“It’s when you say something more than once. See, your first sentence is ‘I love my dad’s game player.’ You have to write something new.”

His next shot was, “It is so much fun.”

“You already said something similar in your second sentence.”

“Noooooooooo!”

I prompted him with a few questions. “What are your favorite games? Do you ever play with Daddy? Do you like playing with Daddy? When do you get to play?”

“I got it!” he said as he departed my desk again. He returned with a new sentence: “I only play with it in the summer.”

“Good job, kiddo,” I told him. “You can play when the clock hits 7:15.”

No matter how well he’s learning to express himself with written words, 6:00 is too darn early for video games.

d desk

Last weekend, I joined Li’l D in line for a roller coaster ride. He enjoys the ride most from the first car, so he always waits an extra turn or two to have that seat.

“I’d like to have the first car to myself, Mom,” he told me. “I always have someone else with me!”

“Okay,” I agreed, stepping into line for the second car.

“Oh, no!” exclaimed Li’l D when a boy a little older than him stepped into line right behind him. Turning toward the other boy, he said, “Please do not get on the car with me. I would like to go by myself for once.”

The boy covered his ears and started talking loudly so as to block out Li’l D.

“He’s going to get on the ride with me again. He always gets on the ride with me, even though I ask him not to. He’s going to do it again.”

He turned from me toward the boy to restate his request. Again, the boy covered his ears and talked over him.

“Some kids and parents only listen to parents,” Li’l D said sadly. “I think he only listens to parents.”

“That is sad, isn’t it? It’s good that you recognize that. I’m sure he’ll let you on alone this time.”

When it was finally Li’l D’s turn to board the ride, the other boy ran to hop on with him.

I stuck out my arm to prevent this. “No,” I said, as the gates swung close and left him on the other side.

I wasn’t sure the boy was actually choosing to ignore my son; to me, it looked like he could equally well have been trying to limit overwhelming sensory input. Regardless, it was important for me to support Li’l D’s clear, polite request after the many conversations we have had about the importance of both boundaries and hearing “no.”

I flung my arms up in the air as I rode. Roller coaster rides are just plain more fun when I abandon all illusion of control. But there was more to my elation than that: In those moments before the ride, my son had used his words masterfully. He’d used them politely to advocate for himself, and also recognized that he wasn’t personally responsible for someone else’s failure to hear them.

Words:
individually little,
but, together, everything

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  1. July 10, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Beautiful!

    • July 23, 2016 at 6:57 am

      Thank you! (The words that have flown in the two weeks since this post have also been lovely. 🙂 )

  2. July 10, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Mama Deb well done. Your boys are growing so fast. It’s important now more than ever to teach our children to be their own advocate. We can’t (though we will try) always be there to protect and shelter them. You’re doing great! And as a result, they’re doing great.
    With all my kids, I find it is these small moments like reading and writing that I remember most. It takes the rest of the world away and I can observe my child in his/her world, in their own way.

    • July 23, 2016 at 7:28 am

      You are so right about the advocacy! More and more by the day, I’m grateful for how my mom advocated for my siblings and me. What I took from that is that I’m worth advocacy, whether or not any particular person agrees or encourages that. The values of self and self advocacy are beautiful things to instill in children.

  3. July 10, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Your last three lines explain exactly why I write.

    I love your interactions with your kids. They remind me of talking with my daughter when she was little. Even though she’s more thrilled with math and science these days, her writing and language skills have paved the way to her success in college. You’re passing a great gift on to your boys. ❤

    • July 23, 2016 at 7:30 am

      Thank you. ♥ I think Li’l D’s headed that path, and that’s A-OK. I hope he’ll keep finding ways to use his spoken words for love regardless which academic/career trajectory he pursues! I am so delighted by his words … and Littler’s, too, though his are more descriptive of the physical world than anything right now. 🙂

  4. July 10, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Precious moments. Great that you are cherishing them and thank you for sharing.

  5. July 10, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    (And if you ask me, 6:00 is too darn early to be writing too!)

    • July 23, 2016 at 7:40 am

      Totally agreed! I have to wake up butt early for work, which means my kids are on a similar, somewhat less early schedule. This was a rare morning that they “slept in” until 5:45. 🙂 / 😦

  6. July 10, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    This is such a heart-warming post. Yay for learning. And growing. For all of us.

  7. July 10, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    These boys of yours are going to be amazing men.

  8. Nikki
    July 10, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Your beautiful son always amazes me. I love the influence he has on my son and the timeless friendship I witness evolving in front of me. Thank you for helping to cultivate that and to cultivate the beauty in your own children. And I agree…that boy was definitely blocking sensory input. It’s easier for me to recognize that now that I am aware of it in my own child.

    • July 23, 2016 at 7:44 am

      Littler has recently taken to covering his ears when he’s overwhelmed. When he’d only done it once or twice, I thought it was a fluke. After I saw it a half dozen times or so, I googled it and found it’s a stimulus-quieting response.

      I so agree about watching the boys grow–into themselves, and into their friendship! I wish we lived neared, but knowing that there’ll be a time when they’re looking back on their decades of friendship … man, that chokes me up in the very best way. ♥

  9. July 10, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    You are such a good teacher and developer! Your boys are gaining such excellent knowledge and life skills and obviously your nurture gives the boost to self-confidence! Very cool!

    • July 23, 2016 at 7:45 am

      Thank you! I got to learn from one of the best, and try to get a little better with everything I see I could’ve done a little differently. 🙂

  10. July 12, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    I’m stealing the writing in exchange for PlayStation time idea 😀

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