Friday, October 5, 2012

Powerful Words

It happened. I wasn't sure the day would come, but it did. It may be fleeting, but today is the day my son realized and said that he is good enough. Not just good enough, but awesome.

And last week it happened. Except this time it was my daughter. Innocently showing me what she wrote in her school journal. She is loving and powerful and...weird. So she says, and I believe her.

Since my children were born, as most parents do, we wanted them not only to feel loved by their family, but also to love themselves. As a parent, many times a day, every day, I tell my two kids that I love them. My husband does the same. We do our best to reinforce in them why we believe they are such wonderful human beings. We share with them what others say about them as well.

The past few years with Jake, our son, have been tough. They have been riddled with tears and hard questions. "Why can't I learn like everyone else?" "Maybe I'm just not that smart." "Why would someone say/do that?" Jake is plenty “smart”, but his mind does not process information in the same way as most people. Just imagine a condition a lot like dyslexia, but not quite and with no defined treatment or teaching protocols, and you will be almost there. Frustrating? Oh, yeah.

Jason and I have been constant advocates for our son. For instance, we have helped him with his schoolwork, spent endless hours with educators to help them find ways to teach him, and we have tried to help him find a sport or activity he likes and honestly understands. We've explained at times that people aren't always kind. His mind takes it all in and you can almost see the gears turning, trying to process the information we have given him or the situations life has thrown at him. 

Well, fourth grade has been a great year so far. We have discovered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Jake loves it. The instructors are kind and patient and work with him in a very "hands on" manner, which is just what he needs. Jake is feeling stronger and more confident. He radiates coolness and pride when someone asks him about it. And school, which is still tough at times, at least seems manageable to him. He isn't crying everyday. That is a win. Folks that is a HUGE WIN!

So today Jake was working on some homework. He has been trying to catch up after being out sick all week. As he is working, I hear, "What?!...Mom, could you come here? This doesn't make sense to me." I go over and read the homework. It asks him to fill in the blanks and to tell the teacher what his ideal self would be. I can see that he is concerned about this question, and he is fretting over what seems simple to me.  I calmly say, "Well, she is asking you to fill in how you want others to know you. Do you want to be smart, funny, athletic, quiet, a good singer...stuff like that." Jake is still perplexed and I start understanding where his problem is with this statement. I said, "Jake, here, they want to know your name or what you want to be called. For instance, you could write Superman. And here, imagine what you would want your friends to yell out about you." He seems satisfied and I go back to my ironing. Soon, he walks over to me and says, "I did it. I answered the last question too. Could you check and make sure I did it right?" I take his page and read and fight back the tears of happiness. He thinks he is awesome just the way he is. I tell him it's great, just perfect.
And Reese, my daughter. She has been the outgoing one. She makes friends easily and is very smart. Things come easily to her. She has such an amazing spirit. A vibrant, kind, creative, yet full of energy kind of spirit. Jason and I have always said that we need to help her continue to grow that spirit without stifling it, yet make sure she has the correct discipline and support. There's a fine line with her. As confident as she is, she looks for validation. "Momma do you like this outfit? Is it pretty?" And "Don't help me! I will do it myself!" And "Do you think Daddy wants to see my work? Can you leave it out for him?" We have always taught both of our children that you can do or become whatever you choose. Reese did wrestling, her choice, for two years, even when she was the only girl. She has spunk and thank goodness she knows it, at seven years old. To describe herself as loving and powerful is amazing. To even have an idea of what that means, at her age, is truly wonderful. And weird...we all are in some way and she is proud of her own weird way. 

When I saw what she had written, I wanted to jump up and shout, "Yes!!!" And if I was at home I would have, but to do it randomly in the middle of my son's Jiu Jitsu class would have been a little strange. But I was glowing from the inside out! 

It's times like these that you realize you're a pretty good parent and that your children do listen to you. Sure they hear you yell out, "This door is a piece of crap!" and repeat that. But they also hear the good stuff. The stuff that you want them to soak up. The "I love you’s", the times you whisper to them when you think they are sleeping,"You are such a sweet boy". The "You have such a great spirit" and "How's my beautiful girl today?" The things that matter.

I took a lesson from my parents. Every night at dinner, when we are all sitting and focused, each one of us answers a question: "What's the best thing that happened to you today?" Because no matter how crappy (There's that word again) your day has been, there is always at least one good thing that happened. Now, I've taken the lead and added another thing. We also finish the statement, "I am awesome because..." Too many times we forget the good stuff, especially about ourselves. And sometimes it doesn't seem to matter if someone else tells you that you’re awesome, you've got to believe it yourself.

So maybe it was the kind words my husband and I passed along. Maybe it was the conversations and statements of awesomeness at dinner or maybe it is their inner being that just knows that they are awesome. Whatever the reason, they got it. They are awesome. They are loving and powerful. And yes, they are weird. Me, too.

1 comment:

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