Table Talk Tuesday:I Refuse to Recycle the Garbage

There's a lot about my 4 year old, Brennan that I admire. There's also a lot that annoys me sometimes (like his incessant chatter and compulsive need to ask me the same question 5-6x in a row) but there's so much more about him that I admire and respect...envy even.

He has this joy to him that's unlike anything I've ever seen, even from a kid. He just gets in these spaces where he is so in awe of life, so enthralled by his environment, so intrigued by what's going on around him that he exudes this energy that's static with little electrodes of joy. Bliss. Wonderment. And this joy makes him inquisitive, bold, fearless even, which catches me off guard sometimes because he's naturally shy like his mama.

Until he gets to know you that is. Then its game on and he loves to have your full attention-just like his mama. The introverted facet of his personality is just an observational tool he uses to feel out the people and environment around him. While he can be content playing by himself, being the social and playful butterfly is where he's most comfortable. It's in this zone where all the rich dimensions of his personality and vivid imagination truly get to be on display-Again, just like his mama. In fact, I think that's what amazes me the most about him-in him I see myself, which I'm sure is something all parents experience at some point.

I see the child I was-but only at school, with my step moms, or when I went to visit my mother in the summer. I see who I was in my mind, because that's the only place I was allowed to live and grow, especially creatively-my mind. My father kept me muted. Silenced. He controlled everything from what I ate, to how I wore my hair, to what I wore to school. I wasn't allowed to ask questions. My learning about life came from interactions at school, observing people quietly at restaurants or in stores, or watching my father go through five marriages. It came from the books I read to escape, from listening to songs on my radio when he wasn't home.  It came from listening to artists like Prince when he was home. It came from spending lots of time sitting alone outside, just staring out at the world around me.

So now that I'm a parent, and I see all these aspects of his personality & thought patterns that remind me of myself, I have to make a conscious choice every day, (sometimes several times a day) to not suppress who he is or what he expresses. Boundaries? Yes. Discipline? Yes. But a silent, muted, expressionless, inanimate child is not what I want him to be....or even the type of parent I want to be. I want his wildly vivid imagination to thrive & be an environment for his creativity & love of music to grow. I want him to be able to talk, tell me how he feels, even if he says it in a way I don't understand, or it's a fictional story about how him and a friend from school slayed a yellow dragon & then ate chocolate cake. I'm not going to lie. It's not easy. Especially because what was modeled for me was garbage.

That may sound harsh, but look. I know that there is no instructional manual for parenting. I get that for the most part, as parents, we're just doing the best we can with what we have. But as with everything, there are exceptions, and my dad was an exception. Everything he taught me about parenting was garbage. His "children should be seen & not heard" approach to parenting me, forcing me to walk around with my head down, never allowing me to make eye contact with him or anyone else? Garbage. Pure garbage that impacts me now, even at 28.

So my point, is that when I look at my son, I see him for the individual he is, but I also see the little girl who wasn't allowed to live, to express, to be herself, make her own choices. So I refuse to recycle the garbage that was modeled for me, that was dumped into my life. I will work on tossing it out, untangling myself from it, and turning it into powerful lessons to help myself & others, but I. WILL. NOT. RECYCLE or dump it on my children.

It's not easy. When he wants to wear things that don't match, I have to reign in the urge to force him to wear something else. He's only 4 and for crying out loud he has better fashion sense than I do. Oh-and did I mention I never wear socks that match? :)

When he is talking 500 mph and asking me a slew of questions I don't feel like answering, I suppress the words that want to shut him up and have been trying instead to just listen to him.

Be engaged with him. Give him what I wasn't given. Attention. Nurturing. Love. Creative expression. An environment that fosters that fearless joy & inquisitiveness he has.

Yea, I'll say it. I admire the hell outta my son. His view of life motivates me to keep going.

Is there something about your kids that you admire? Something from your childhood you refuse to recycle? Feel free to share!