Every now and again, as a mom, you look at your kids, see how big they are, and wonder if you’ve done enough. Have you instilled in them not just the how-to’s and the must-do’s, but have you gotten down to the basics of what really matters? When push comes to shove, have your kids really learned what you wanted to plant in their hearts and their very souls?
Life is busy. It’s full of so many must-get-done lists in a day that it trails off long after the day is over and the hours are since spent and gone. The kids are asleep in their beds and there is still one more thing to put away, wash up, find a match to or set out so it’s not forgotten. How do you make sure you have gotten to the heart of things as you run to and fro? Did the kids notice when you took an extra minute out of the rat race to stop and talk about that “teachable” moment when it floated past the other day? Did they hear any of them over the last few years?
There’s never a good way to know until push comes to shove. Until your kid is square in the face with a choice of doing the right thing over what everyone else is doing, you never really know. Further still, they may know the right thing, they just may not have the gumption, the guts, to take that hard stand.
Alli, my 14 year old, came home from school the other day. She blew through the door in her normal blustery fashion and grabbed food from the pantry and fridge and sprawled in the kitchen and loudly began recounting the day. Suddenly she stopped, got heated, and her eyes went beady and hot. When she is mad, her crystal light blue eyes change into a royal blue, nearly glowing. They flash and dance, bouncing the light. I stopped what I was doing. She commanded attention.
“I was sooooo mad today. In class some of the kids were laughing and holding a group of pencils tight and with a rubber band around them. They waved them and walked around saying,’ WHO am I?’ Mom I was so mad! I stood up and yelled at them and told them what for. I didn’t care if we were in the middle of class. They can’t do that.” She was ticked off. She went on to tell me they were making fun of an autistic kid from class who liked to have his pencils organized just so. Alli has a special place in her heart for him. She has always taken up for him. She gets mad when anyone with a special need or challenge is mocked or bullied. She gets so mad she will physically stand up and confront the bullies till they back off.
Her sixth grade year this particular boy was in class with her and she volunteered to sit with him in class. No one wanted to be partnered with him. He would randomly talk and make noises and gestures. He could not control his vocal tics or some of his movements. But to Alli it was what made him like a little brother. She watched after him like she did her brother on the bus. She got in anyone’s face who would say anything to him.
Summers she works at a non-profit horse ranch where kids come to ride. Her favorite weeks of the summer at the Dare to Dream Youth Ranch are those where they host autism camps. She has always been drawn to kids, but particularly those with special needs. She has a way about her. A sense. She is as protective in the classroom as she is on the soccer field of the goal she defends.
I asked if she got in trouble for her outburst in class. Alli is not exactly a quiet girl. When ticked off, she can be quite outspoken and loud. I know she gets it honestly, as her mother might be a little bit like that. Yeah, she may be a chip off the old block here.
“No, she never told me to be quiet, in fact the teacher came over to me after I sat back down and told me thank you for standing up for him. She said she was glad I did that.” Alli tilted her chin in a way that said, “Yeah, and I’d do it again even if she didn’t like it.” She still had a defiant and ticked edge to her. She gets very riled at injustice and disrespect.
So, when it comes right down to it, in the midst of all the to-do’s and the must-get-done’s, have I gotten around to really getting to the heart of what I want my kids to grow up knowing?
Yeah. I think this passes the test. But honestly? It’s not a testament to my parenting. It’s a testament to my daughter’s strength, her determination and her moxie. She has all it takes to get out there in the world and be exactly who she was created to be. She knows what she needs to know, and she has what it takes to do what is right. And when push comes to shove, she’s gonna do it. I’m proud of her for being exactly who she is and not be ashamed of that for a minute. Frankly? I think I’m learning from her.
I may lie akes at night thinking or worrying about something, but this? Nope. This isn’t one of them.