Thursday, November 4, 2010

Old Musings #3: Sacred Language

Since my last post painted First Born Son in an unflattering, teenager-y light, I felt the need to review my old writings about him- from a time when there were only the two boys in the house and the only homework was to cut and paste words with their corresponding pictures. The Baby is helping to stir up old memories of when the older three were much younger- filled with wonder and imagination-where each small milestone warranted a huge celebration. I will have those moments with The Baby. I will cherish them. But, I can not help but pine for the sweeter, less stressful times our family was allowed to revel in for so many years. Anyway, this passage is from June 2, 2002. First Born Son (referred to in the piece as "M") was only 5 years old.

As it often goes, my children have taught me so many things. Most unexpectedly, the depth of mothering evolves from a sacred language with one’s children.
One night when I was doing my goodnight rounds I found M lying in his bed with a wooden stick thoughtfully pressed into his chin. He looked pensive.
“What’s up Buddy?” I asked.
“ I want to go back to where it all began,” he answered forlornly.
Such a profound statement from my five year old made me smile. But, he was serious.
“ What does that mean, M? Where did you hear that?”
“I didn’t hear it anywhere. It just came into my brain,” he answered eyes widening. “ I want to be a kid again, not a grown up, not do work in school.  I just want to play.”
It was all making sense. He was tired. It was the end of a very busy school year. Kindergarten was approaching its grand finale and the teachers were preparing the children for the rigors of first grade. One of the most important lessons was learning how to sit still for a longer stretch, without wiggling and with concerted effort to complete written work in record time.
          He loves school. When given the opportunity to stay home complaining of vague ailments, he protests. He would rather be with his friends; he might miss out on valuable fun.  If we force him to stay home when he is truly ill, he reluctantly rests, anxious to join his crowd, those comrades who are so separate from us. There are precious secrets and encoded languages there. Teachers are privy to all of this, but even they respect the sensitivity of keeping these things sacrosanct.
I was pregnant. M was soon to be a big brother again- not his choice. He accepted more responsibility like feeding the dogs and letting them outside, getting his own juice and snacks, keeping his room clean, etc. For him, it was sometimes too much. “I’m sick of doing work!” he’d grumble. “ I don’t want dogs anymore.”
It’s not often that he complains about such things. He is by his own nature exquisitely amiable. He has developed an amazing empathy for others. He’s curious and mischievous and often wild, but above all, he loves. And when he lies on his bed at night- awake when he should have been asleep an hour earlier- thinking, thinking, thinking because it is the first moment of the day that quiet has entered his body- pondering the whys and the hows of the way the world around him works and more than that pondering his own feelings about the things he knows to be true, I must just let him feel. I must let him know he is wonderful and amazing. He’ll answer, “I know.” I let him know that I don’t want him to grow up too fast. He doesn’t need to be a grown up yet, but the things he does for us are helpful and they make this family run more smoothly.  I tell him that he is doing just fine and I don’t want much more from him than to continue to follow his heart to help other people out.
He’ll ask me to rub his back, and even though I am tired I will do it because he is still so fragile in these moments, so tender as he was when he was a babe. I know there will be a day or a thousand days when he won’t want me to touch him at all and he won’t even speak those truthful worries of his brain. I’ll be left to wonder if he is really okay. For now, I savor the sacred language we have that allows me to speak simply and make him all better.

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