Monday, May 23, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Birthday

My boy  has been on this earth 10 years. I can't take my eyes off this miracle I helped create. He gives me great joy and causes much frustration. I enjoy his company and am grateful for the chance -- for this little while on my journey -- to have his care entrusted to me. In my darkest moments, having him to care for got me out of bed, inspired me to keep going and to do my best.
     He has seen and experienced more than many 10 year olds, some good, some not so good. He has cavorted in two oceans, rode a horse in the desert and in a pre-production EV in Motown. He learned to read long before school and has enjoyed many, many books. He loves to meet new people. He adores Star Wars, Harry Potter, pirates, cars, karate and waving around swords, light sabers, wands and sticks.  He does awkward magic tricks and tells cheesy jokes. He will stay in a pool or lake until forced out, even if his lips are blue and skin wrinkled. I don't know where he gets it, but he loves to speak publicly and perform.
    In many ways, he's a very normal happy, healthy boy. I'm prejudiced, but in many, he's also exceptional.
     I worry.
    He has seen his father take a seizure from alcohol withdrawal.  He learned pretty early that adults are fallible and can't always be trusted. He knows sometimes he knows better than the adults around him. He has heard and seen too many conflicts handled poorly.  He carries around a lot of anger for a little boy whose personality is naturally sunny. He is easily irritated and easily provoked. He fights with other boys and teachers and even the principal. I worry.
    But. Maybe because I'm his mother and it's my job to not only guide and discipline him but to love him unconditionally that I can find the goodness behind the bad.
     I'm not crazy about his defiance of authority. However.  He will never be easily influenced just because somebody is bigger or older than he is. He is fearless, but is no bully. He is gentle and helpful to children younger, smaller, weaker than he is.  He's not afraid to speak up for himself. As he gets older and more civilized and (hopefully) learns to control his temper, he will learn how to do so in a more respectful manner.
    The lessons he has learned having an alcoholic father are heartbreaking, but ones we all need to learn eventually.  He has learned to manage his expectations. He knows love comes in many forms. He has learned he can love someone and not idealize them. He has learned to be generous with himself and be aware of others' limitations. I have seen this in practice just this week.
    Right before his birthday he was on the phone with his father who was asking him what he wanted for his birthday, and what kind of cake he wanted for their dinner together. Like most kids, birthdays are THE day for being a little selfish.  But, knowing his dad didn't have any money, he told him what he really wanted was for his dad to make him one of his ice cream shakes and tell him a story. And that's how they celebrated together and he enjoyed it.
    At his birthday party the next day, one of his guests, a child from school with a volatile home life gave him a present. It was a packet of trading cards kept fastened with an old rubber band. It was obvious the cards were not new, but his own. Amid the expensive Wii games and cards loaded with cash, my son gushed over the cards. When we got home, he started playing with them, sorting them out thoughtfully. He said he realized they came from the boys on stash, and that made them special.   "If you have money, it's easy to  go out and buy a gift, but he didn't have any money so he gave me something that meant a lot to him."
    I am so proud of him. My scrappy, sunny, furious, generous, shiny son.