Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Child After All

My two boys.
Both so talented, such individuals.  Brought up in the way that only my husband and I could raise them--with our mix of travel, and culture, and literature.  Raised in the backseat of the van, in the theatre, the library and in museums all across the country.  Very proud of them.  Two completely unique individuals.  Handsome.  Kind.  Funny.

But so often, I look at them and I don't recognize them at all.  They seem to have none of me in them.  I see plenty of their father, but none of me.   And I wonder, "Whose children are these???  Because they're sure not mine!"

I'm theatre through and through.  Outgoing.  Talking to strangers always--at Wal-Mart, Burger King, Disney World, in the audience.  I'm a risk-taker, a...what does Joe Siefker call it?  An Experience Collector.  Rarely do I let a moment for fun, for adventure, a chance to do something new go by.  I try to recognize those once-in-a-lifetime moments and make sure that they happen for me, for those around me.  Skydiving.  The Star Wars Convention.  Re-enactments at Gettysburg.  A whale watch.

My two boys?  They take after my husband.  They would rather stay home, rather watch TV, read a book, play a game--than go out and do something new, have an adventure, LIVE.  Sometimes it makes me mad.  Sometimes I'm saddened by it.  Sometimes I force them to go.:-)  They can thank me for it later. 

Something I noticed about them early on--they never want to sit on the aisle when we go to a show.  They're afraid that the cast will come storming down into the audience, demanding that members of the audience get up and dance, sing, come up on stage and be a part of the show.  Sitting on the aisle increases that chance, so they always sit to the inside.  They don't ride roller coasters.  They don't want to try water-skiing or sky-diving or white water rafting.  They don't want to climb trees or take a mule ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  They don't want to get out of the car and stand on the rocky shore screaming into the wind and the waves.  They just want to watch from the safety of the car.  Take a photo.  Read about it.  I don't understand it.  How can these two be MY children???

They don't work hard at anything.  They give up.  Papers and school projects?  Meh.  Minimum requirements met and that's all.  Enough to get by.  Whereas I want to add a fancy border to a poster, gather props for a class presentation, dress up even, go the extra mile for extra credit, they don't.  Many times, big and creative ideas stay just that.  They don't have the umph to follow through, to make it happen.  They get discouraged.  They give up.  It can't be done.  This, too, is an attitude I don't understand.  I, the original Can-Do person.  The Bob-the-Builder of children's theatre.  I, who look for ways to make it happen, rather than reasons why it won't.

Both of them, so negative.  Glass half-empty kids.  Look on the dark side.  Plan for the worst.  I just don't get it.  Don't understand how they can go through life like that.  Feel sad for them and their outlook.


So today, I told #2 that he was going to be retained in the 7th grade.  I looked at his face.  Watched him.  He impassively watched me back.  I said, "How do you feel about that?"  And he said, "I need it.  I didn't learn enough this year. [pause] And I'll get to have Mrs. Day again. [pause] And when else will I get to learn about Japan?  I'll get to do that again, too."

And in that moment, I saw me.  My child.  In the face of what to a 7th grader must be devastating news, he was looking for the positive, the good, the silver lining.  I pulled him up onto my lap.  I am small, yes, but he is smaller.  And I just hugged him.  Told him I was proud of him.  For taking it so well.  For understanding.  And for seeing the good things through the bad news.

It will be the best thing for him.  He's so small.  Not real mature.  He didn't learn the things he needs to move on.  Better now than later.  And he's right.  He'll get to have Mrs. Day again and she's been really good for him.  He hates change, and so this works well for him.  Another year to grow, another year to learn.

And we will learn together--my own boy and me.

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