I wish I didn’t always want ” to do something about it” when it comes to kids. I’d like to sit it out, wait and see, trust the process instead, but it’s you, a life, an important time in a life and I adore you. I watch you struggle with daddy, report your frustrations and I listen, ask you what you might try and step back. But I ask myself why. Why you are not allowed to dig the hole to plant the bare root rose you got at the plant store, you can’t gather the eggs from the hen house, clean out the filthy water trough or pick up the empty feed bags daddy leaves to clutter their coop?
He wants you to leave his stuff alone. Does he want you to go away and leave him alone? I told him kids like to help, you are all a team. More things get done, its fun when families work together. I should have kept quiet. Yesterday I went over when you were at school and no one was home and so I cleaned out the disgusting hen water trough, picked up the garbage in their tiny coop and collected 23 eggs left in the nest. There are only 4 chickens. Neglected chickens. Little animals penned up by your daddy for his pleasure and then neglected. Dirty car, yard, house, dirty daddy. This is me trying to step back. I have to learn to let go. But I still notice and I wish for you that you had a more structured, consistent set of daily tasks, jobs, that you would clean up your yard, the coop, the car together.
But I no longer expect it to change. Do you ever get fed up? I pretend to not notice. The way we pretend not to be afraid of a coyote staring at us on the trail in front of us, but know she knows we are. You are afraid. I am too. But we walk aggressively toward her anyway, and act “as if “and it is so. She turns away, we looked scary, we seem brave. Pretending sometimes works just fine.
Let’s pretend that you have a morning routine that includes getting ready for school on time, that you remember your lunch kit, your homework and a jacket, that you remember to put it in the classroom and replace it after recess and replace it after lunch and hang up your jacket and bring it to the car at the end of the day with your homework folder and your lunch kit. Does it make a difference in your sense of yourself? Are you now a guy that remembers things? A guy that has things handled? Will daddy say you are responsible enough to collect the eggs? To plant your own rose? What will it take for daddy to let you get there? Let himself let you?
I sat with you to do math homework, adding double digit numbers with regrouping in the tens column. You got the crayons and began counting crayons. I asked you to focus on your math. And you said that you are supposed to get 20 like items for math. What? I think, I told you, today now that you are 8, we will try it with head numbers and fingers if needed, no crayons.
You agreed and I asked you what you had to do first. I watched you, coached when you started on the wrong set of addends, the tens not the ones, and you held the totals in your head, carried your ones and did twenty problems. Your mathematical thinking is spiffy. You even guessed, estimated one and were one number off. You wanted to do them on your own, without distractions did all twenty in minutes and then went to play. Relaxed, successful. Remember last week you told me you were bad at math. I didn’t believe it. Today you changed your mind, “I guess I am good at math.” I guess you just needed nothing in your hands but a pencil, a quiet space and your cleverness, your own skills. And a coach. We all need a perceptive coach. But mostly buddy, you need to believe you can and no one should ever lead you to think otherwise.
Today is Saturday. I’ll come over and ask of we can plant your rose, or it will die. A rose is like the chickens, we made a promise to care for it when we brought it home. Its not okay to let it wither and die. We step up in the case of roses and chickens. We have no choice, do we?