The emotion has literally driven me to my knees.. Sometimes to embrace a child (or three), sometimes to cry out to God, wondering once again how someone as completely unworthy as my self could have been entrusted with so much.
My kids play hard, really hard. They climb trees, and fall out of them. They catch frogs and lizards. They dig in the dirt. They swim in lakes, in the spring, summer and fall, with or without swimsuits. They fight wars, hunt bear and moose, stalk squirrels and wild turkeys. They roller blade, ride bikes, throw snowballs, swing too high at playgrounds. They get dirty, quite dirty.
This seems to make some people nervous.
A few years ago, a woman who has known me for a long time (20 years), but who does not know my kids at all (she has seen them, at play, a few times), made a comment that wounded me, and made me doubt my parenting. It still hurts. Her kids are always clean. Their clothes impeccable. Her children are quiet, reserved, not unfriendly but not outgoing either.
My younger son had just started kindergarten, and I was asked how he was doing in school, if there were any behavior issues. I was a bit surprised, but replied that he was doing very well, seemed well liked by his teacher and his classmates(adoration would be a more apt description of what his classmates felt, he is a charismatic kid). Her response was near shock, and certainly what was said shocked me. She told me that her son had learned to steer clear of mine at an early age, as my son was so aggressive.
I had never heard my son referred to as aggressive. HOW COULD I HAVE MISSED THIS IN HIM? What kind of horrible parent was I? I had heard a lot of other things about him, extremely bright, energetic, tireless, stubborn, strong willed, inquisitive. But never AGGRESSIVE.
I started doubting what I knew about my beloved boy. I would ask his teachers, with alarming regularity, how he was doing in school, not academically, but socially. They would tell me he was wonderful. I would talk to the principal, asking the same questions. I would get the same answer. “He is a delight; he is kind to others, always the first to help another in need, polite, respectful”. I didn’t believe it.
I started warning others about my son. I don’t know that I used the word aggressive, but surely it came across that I didn’t fully trust this kid. His teachers got taken aside and told to let me know if there were ANY problems. Back-talk, and disrespect were not to be tolerated. I volunteered in the lunchroom and the classroom, sure that I would catch him in the act at some point. I never did.
Friends and family have always reassured me that my kids are good kids, but I thought they just had to say that, you know, it is in the friend/family contract and all, right? So I did not believe them. I just knew that the “bad” was there somewhere.
I don’t know what changed, but earlier this year I started to believe:
I DO have great kids.
They are not perfect, they fight, they are messy, they get snotty with us, and they try to push bedtimes and baths as far into the future as possible. But they are great kids. They love and they care, about each other and others. All three of them are kind, to people and animals, they work hard in school, they are polite to their teachers and adults they encounter. Each of my kids will go out of their way to befriend those in need.
So all this to say, I am done apologizing for my kids. I am proud of my children. One may have hair past his shoulders, another sports a Mohawk, and the third is regularly attired in equal parts pink lace and black dirt. They all have bruises and calluses from playing hard, and huge hearts, the consequence of loving hard.