As a novice parent, I used to think success meant my kids not having problems, complaints, or unhappiness of any kind. I saw all of the above as signs I was somehow failing as a parent instead of the reality of rearing little people in a big world full of sin and enormous feelings.
Luckily, four wee ones in I think I’ve graduate from novice to at least aware I don’t have a clue and okay with it. It’s a good thing, because one of my favorite people ever has had a hard week: Sammy.
Sammy loves all the girls. He dotes on the twins and plays with Wren, even agreeing to play Barbies as long as he gets the naked ones. And she plays super heroes. They have a grand time. However, this week a realization fell on Sam: he is the lone male sibling. It was strange to watch this awareness take place.
Wren: I can’t wait until Asher and Eowyn are older so we can play dolls.
Sammy: They won’t want to play with me. I’m just a stupid little boy.
Me and Wren: What?!?
I have no idea where the phrase “stupid little boy” came from. I have no idea why Sammy would think anyone wouldn’t want to play with him when Asher and Eowyn smile at the mere sight of him walking in their general direction. I have no idea why suddenly it was the most awful thing on the planet to be surrounded by all that estrogen. I am only certain that he became very sad and started asking when Dad would be home.
This would have leveled me in my previous parenting life. I would be playing back every thing anyone had ever said, done, or implied to make him feel this way. Now, I don’t have to obsess over that. He is loved, told he is loved, shown love. I’m sure of it. I’m also sure he is having some big feelings about where he fits in as a boy, a middle child, never the first to do anything and not the baby. He doesn’t have a built in bestie like the twins and he can’t go to AWANAS like Wren because he’s not old enough. I think he’s having a very stuck in the middle moment. Add to that he’s the only one without ovaries when dad is at work, and I think it got to be too much. This was bound to happen with the immense amount of change we’ve dealt with in the last year, and it’s okay.
In the past, Sammy stood the chance of just fading when he was sad. Sometimes he would tell you, but as someone who does not particularly look for conflict, he’d more than likely just do his own thing and wait until you realized he had a need. I’m proud he said what he did so at least we can work on fixing it. A man date with daddy was ordered stat, tonight in fact.
Now I know that most of our parenting will probably be judged by our children on how well we managed issues, not on never having them in the first place. How do we deal when someone needs some special time? Do we prioritize the needs of everyone as best we can? When conflict or problems arise, how is it handled? Do we follow the principles we say we believe? Do we reflect Christ in our behavior?
This is the hard part, but I think it’s the part where the good stuff can happen. The good stuff tonight includes burgers for the boys (they are grabbing take-home fries for the girls who have teeth to eat them!) and some quality time doing whatever Sammy wants. It won’t fix everything. It won’t mean we never have another issue. But it means Sammy shouldn’t have a doubt that our little boy is precious, that we will stop the world to let him know that. These girls he’s surrounded by will break down walls for that kid. His dad will do the same. And when he needs us, we are always there. I hope that’s something my kids say about me when they are grown. She may have been half-dressed, never wearing make up and generally a mess, but she was there, never a question. One can hope.