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P33ish038: Parenting, Just When You Think You Have It All Figured Out

My son and I had a conversation over the weekend that made my head do a three-sixty. He is only six years and eleven months old, bear in mind, but he says some of the most interesting things you would sometimes wonder if he swallowed a prophet. And he's got such a view of the world that makes you wonder if there ever was a time when you were that...pure. Makes me want to protect that innocence as long as I can, that one. And I will, by the power of God's Spirit.

He is also the kind of child that tends to internalize stuff so you would have to know him to actually be able to tell when something isn't quite right 'cause all the telltale sign you get might be silence, or its identical twin: absolute concentration on his video game. And when he gets like that, you don't start a question with "why did you," and expect to get an answer. Ah, God... Kids; they are scary, lmao.

Anyway, I'd been doing a mental check-in with him because he'd been someway earlier in the evening and I needed to know if there was a thought about that in there somewhere because it was like...unusual for him, and it had some sort of loudness to it that silent things usually does. And then he tells me something that started with "I'm not angry," and also included "everybody already knows," and then ended with "...because real daddies don't leave, so no need." And then he does this shrug that just crushed my heart. I hate that shrug because I know it and it is so mature ish it's downright heartbreaking because a seven year old shouldn't have to be that understanding—and it doesn't come out often: it is a shrug that comes out only on special occasions, like when his best female friend joined some other kid in the compound in not talking to him; he was like, "Chichi too is not playing with me because {...}" and then he just shrugs puckers his lower lip, like it hurts but it's her decision so...

Okay, I think I'd just stop right there.

I saw a tweet from a guy last week, something along the lines of being afraid to have kids 'cause he felt he's so jacked up and it seemed impossible to not pass it on. I had also once seen a quote that said "the fact that you're afraid of being a bad mom is how you know you're a great mom," so I replied the tweet with something deriving from that quote. It is true, though: that your fear of getting it wrong somehow steers you to doing it right. Most of the time anyway. Because some of the time, we tend to overcompensate and we, in so doing, mess shit up even worse. And God forbid that we live our worst fears: getting stuck repeating a cycle we'd waited our whole life to break out of.

I personally like to think that effective parenting begins with your own childhood: your home life and what you would keep or toss if you had a say in who raised you, how they did it, and who they trusted you with. My child-slash-teenagehood picture features a number of "tosses" you see, and it's all wrapped up in relationships. And because relationships are key—'cause nobody gets built up or damaged by themselves: somebody's gotta be there to make it happen—I got an extra eye out for who gets a seat in my child's life. And head. I know, too, that he won't always be at that age where I can handpick who he gets exposed to and where he spends time at, so I take the time to teach him how to sift his relationships and what he allows even from now, starting with the simple 'word/opposite' technique: happy/sad; feel good/feel bad; talks nice/talks mean, etc. Yes, I've had a stint at teaching, lol.

As much as it depends on me—and it depends on me a lot, I try to ensure that my child's formative years are filled with the right people who show him the right images because, Lord have mercy, majority of the way we are or are not and the things we do or won't/don't do didn't even stem from verbal conversations that happened with the people we picked them up from. I mean, it's too many women who are, or refuse to be, someway because they watched their mothers be it—and what became of her. Same thing with the men. It is messed up, but it's too many of us trying to be, or to not be, something our parents never even sat us down to discuss. And nothing says life lessons like those ones you never even got a class about. Crazy.

See, I am constantly learning that it really doesn't take a lot to be a great parent. Or a bad one. It is crazy also that the things you do to make your kids happy can also shift quickly to become the same things you fuck them up with. And that is the scary thought: messing your kids up with something you thought you were dong for them. But as with many important aspects of life that you honestly could use a sure guide for, there isn't a rule book anywhere that tells you how to do this parenting ish without a miss; you just watch, and listen; and let your kid teach you sometimes. Because it's always something new that jumps at you just when you're certain you got it all figured out.

The past couple days, I've caught myself thinking: I for real spent the first half-decade of my motherhood alone, not because it never got lonely, but because I was determined not to be parading 'uncles' in and out of my house in front of my son's face; and all that too not so much because of any moral or spiritual reason as much as it was from paranoid fear of bringing the wrong man home. And then I find out I got my definition of 'wrong' all, well, wrong.

And all it took was a tiny little shrug, from a child with a heart the size of the skies... :)

But thank God for do-overs.

So no need.

A/N: Yes, yes, yessss...that's my little grownup up there, looking all CIA cool and reflective and anointed, for your viewing pleasure. :D


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