It’s interesting the path that I find myself on when teaching my Little Bear. I keep trying to teach him what is important and how much he means to me. However, there are a lot of deep lessons that I am learning from him. I know he’s only 7 and can’t fully grasp the lessons I’m trying to teach him, but his profound wisdom in response to my teachings leaves me dumbfounded at times. I know eventually the full depth of the lessons will sink in, and I hope he doesn’t forget what I’ve taught him.
This month I’ve had some realizations and he’s growing quicker then I thought. He’s entering into the age where society is having more of an impact on how he grows up. It’s hard to be healthy in a profoundly sick society. And I can’t protect him from everything, which is why I’m instead choosing to empower him to live his life the way he chooses and learning to live with the choices he makes. I’m learning to let go of my “failure as a parent” when he chooses to make decisions that support unhealthy habits. It’s a learning process for both.
When he was little I had control over so much. I had control over his environment, control over who he spent time with, and control over what he ate. He would make a decision and I could enforce it either as a “good one” or a “bad one”. That evolved as he got older and I taught him at an early stage that there are parameters for blurring the lines between what’s good and bad. Instead I’ve emphasized respect. Respect for yourself and respect to those around you. What is good for one person can be bad for another. And it’s about choosing what’s “good” for you and what you want to draw into your life.
More and more he’s growing farther away from me and developing his own sense of self. This is the journey of all parents and all children, it’s natural. The pivot in life has come, where he’s not just learning from me – but those who he chooses to spend time with. This is why I chose to try to teach him about what’s important to me and be a good example, because if you want the world to change, you have to be the change you want to see in the world. In order to change the world, you just need to change the dream of just one generation. And my Little Bear is in that category. He’s apart of this young generation who will grow into inheriting this world we are creating for them. Which is why it’s a passion of mine to throw all that I can into raising him.
This blog post was birthed because I was profoundly in awe at his journey questions on what interests him and what he wants to learn more about. A few Mondays ago, he wanted to learn about gratitude and what that means to him. His lesson stuck and changed me as much as it did him. The weekend after that Monday, we went on one of our many “adventures” together. I know he’s exposed to parents who are able to throw down money on their kids and get them food and drinks or material things – without it being much of a struggle. I am not hiding him from the fact that we can’t afford much, but instead of directly saying “we can’t afford it”, what I’m choosing to do is emphasizing the fact that we are not that type of family.
That Saturday morning was different, I wanted to share a drink with him. A special treat. He recognized it for what it was, because there have been so many times when he asks for something and I tell him “no” because it’s not within the budget (I don’t explain it to him that way though). He was very excited about the drink and was eager to hear the lesson that I was going to give him when we stepped outside together.
It wasn’t my intention that he dropped his full cup of hot chocolate – ironically it happened when I was about to explain to him the concept of “holding onto” things and being in the moment. Because once that moment is over, we can’t get it back.
It wasn’t my intention that Little Bear “cried over spilled milk”. Yeah, I could have gone inside and bought him another hot chocolate, but I’m that ass hole parent that drives home a point and finds the lessons in whatever happens. Of course I comforted him when he cried, but he definitely was present when I showed him why I pulled him aside at a rest area in New Jersey. He was devastated because he knew I don’t get him things that often, and he was hard on himself because he forgot to be grateful.
Biggest lesson: we all make mistakes. When we realize we made a mistake, we own up to it and apologize to the person, place, or thing we didn’t fully respect. But sometimes it’s too late when we realize we made a mistake and we drop the hot chocolate. Our lesson today was about awareness, and being fully present. It’s about being grateful for what we have and letting others know how much we appreciate them in the moment.
Being a good parent is about being a good archer, and about being the bow itself. The child is the arrow. We do everything within our power to make sure to give them the right direction to go in. We love them. We support them. But ultimately, in order to let them fly – we have to let them go. Let them make their own decisions. When they hit their mark, we celebrate with them. When our children trust us, they will keep coming back to us to be restrung when they fall or miss their mark.
Be the bow.
There are stages that children move through, and it’s the parents job to recognize where they are at in their mental maturity when explaining lessons to them. When they’re young and little – you are EVERYTHING to them. Because you are their world, and you are all they know. Don’t underestimate the power parenthood has on their life. Be aware before you drop the hot chocolate. This week was my realization that I am not the center of my sons world anymore. I am a big influence, but it’s definitely my time to be the bow and preparing him for his journey in life. Right now, he keeps constantly coming up to me to be restrung and set him right on the path. I’m glad that trust is there. I know the time will come where he will come to me less and less. And even though the distance might cause some parents grief, it will give me a sense of satisfaction because I know that he can soar on his own for longer and longer strides. Until that time, I’m proud to be his parent and I’m grateful that he’s graciously taken the lessons I’ve taught him so far.
Fly high, my friends.