I have been mulling this over in my brain for a few days so I decided to put it down. With Christmas season in full swing, the Christmas cards are arriving. It is wonderful to receive cards and greetings from friends down the street, far away friends and family friends from when we grew up.
One card we received had the usual greetings and well wishes. It also had some wonderful comments about the girls and how much of a pleasure they are. It also contained a comment about Little Man and how much of a challenge he is with the underlying message that he maybe is not as pleasant to be around. Knowing these people, I know logically the comment was benign and not meant to hurt… but it did, deeply.
My heart sunk with the thought that people have this view of my son. This is my underlying fear for Little Man… that people (family, friends, teachers, strangers) can not see past his behavior challenges to see the real soul that is there. He may not fit into everyone else's "proper little" 3.5 year old box, but that does not mean he should be written off or looked down on (or that we should be looked down on because we just can't seem to parent him properly to make him fit into some box or because someone thinks we have not taught him the word "no").
He is a soul that is smarter than most 3.5 year olds. He is a soul that is clever and funny. He is a soul that is very athletic. He is a soul that feels his emotions more than most. He is a soul that is strong in who he is. He is a soul that is not shy. He is a soul that is strong willed and stands by his position. He is a soul that cares for others. These are all qualities that most would argue will serve him well as an adult. I am learning as a parent that we should celebrate these characteristics instead of trying to squash them out of kids so they fit into some arbitrary box. My job as a parent is to create a box for him in today's society that fosters these qualities.
Little Man is a challenge, it is no secret. He has improved tremendously as he has gotten older. We are seeking expert advice in how to help him best. We are not idling sitting by watching and hoping things work out for the best. We are doing everything in our power to be the best parents to Little Man and doing what works for him. We are not parenting him based on what everyone else thinks we should or should not be doing with him.
After mulling this over and thinking things through, I am now just pissed. My bear claws are ready to swing at the first unfair comment or suggestion about how my little boy behaves or how we parent him. I know the view expressed in the card was colored by other people's opinions who have had very limited exposure to Little Man. It also hurts to know that our discussions over the years about Little Man's challenges, spoken in honesty and in moments of frustration, have colored people's view of him. And what hurts more is that view may not be changed, even with time, despite his best efforts or ours.
So my claws are sharpened and ready to defend my son. He is an amazing kid and I am sorry that some can not see past the surface; it is too bad because they are missing out.