Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Day 29: Acceptance is Hopeful

This is a picture of Ben from about four years ago, when he was just a toddler.  It is true- time passes by in a flash!
Tonight at bedtime, Ben said his prayers, as we do every night.

It’s the last step in our evening routine.

His prayers are usually brief, but tonight he had a lot to say:

God, please let Mom pick me up early (from school),
And be a big kid,
And be strong,
And be good,
And be cool,
And let me sleep long,
In the name of Jesus Christ,

Ben took his time, pausing between his words as he often does when he communicates.

He searched his mind for just the right phrase, as an artist would choose a color from his palate with care.

Each pause allowed me a moment to reflect on what he was saying.

God, please let Mom pick me up early

Ben puts in long days at school.  He’s a teacher’s kid, so he gets dropped off in the before care program about an hour before the school day begins and he stays an hour or two after the school day ends. 

So, when Ben is asking for Mom to pick him up early, he’s asking for Mom to pick him up an hour after the school day ends rather than two or three hours later.

When I was in kindergarten, I went to school for a half day.  My mom picked me up at lunch.  Ben has been going to "school" all day since before he could walk.

I hear Ben's prayer for an early day, but I know the reality is that tomorrow my meetings will last until 4 pm, and I'll be on the other side of town.  I know he'll understand.  I know he'll be well taken care of until I can come and get him.  But still, I wish I could let him have his early day.

And be a big kid,

Ben has been talking a lot lately about being a big kid.

He knows that soon he will be in first grade, and he asks me often if he will look different when he’s a first grader.

I tell him that being a big kid is more about how a person acts then how a person looks.

And so he tries to act grown up.

He tells me with sorrow in his voice that the older students say that he is a little kid.

I tell him that one day he will be bigger and older, but, for now, it's pretty fun to be six.

I tell him this, but I know that being six is actually a lot of hard work these days.

And be strong,

Big and strong go hand and hand.

Ben has been trying to eat healthy food in the hopes of making himself stronger.

Today he ate two bowls of salad and two bowls of carrots, which is an unheard of amounts of veggies for him.

He asked me if carrots are a grown up vegetable.

He made me feel his muscles.

I know that all little boys want to be big and strong like superheroes, but I can’t help but wonder why, all of a sudden, it is so important to him to become strong.

And be good,

Ben desperately wants to please the grownups in his life.

I hear him quoting phrases from school while he works on his homework, “Less talking, more working…”

He wants to know that he is doing the right thing.

When he thinks he has disappointed someone, he is crushed.

Somehow his behavior has become intertwined with his concept of self-worth.

I'm afraid he's beginning to believe that his good just isn't good enough.

And be cool,

I didn’t even know until a few days ago that he even knew what the word “cool” meant, outside the context of weather.

I’ve noticed he’s started using the phrase “That’s cool” when he talks to his friends.

He’s become more particular about what he wears to school.

After his haircut on Sunday, he asked, “Do I look cool, Mom?”

Apparently popularity begins at six.

As his mom, I think his coolness factor is through the roof, but I know that the “big kids” at his school most likely see it differently.

I worry about this impact on the little boy who wants to grow up way too fast.

I worry about this little boy who has difficulty with peer interactions and noticing social cues.

I didn’t think all this would begin so soon….

And let me sleep long,

Lately I’ve had to go upstairs and wake him up in the morning so we can make it to school on time.

His first question is always “How many minutes until we leave?”

It’s not that he wants to leave.  He wants to know how long he has to enjoy the sanctuary of our house before he must face the world.

This used to be a little boy who would bounce out of bed before the crack of dawn so he wouldn’t miss a minute of his day.

Now he wants me to let him sleep long.

In the name of Jesus Christ,

As he opened his eyes from his prayer, Ben said, “I talked to God for a long time.  Like ten minutes!”

“You did tell God a lot of things,” I agreed.

As I kissed him on the forehead and tucked him under the covers, he leaned in and said, “I love you a LOT, Mom.  A TON!”

“I love you too, buddy.  So much!” I said as I hugged him once more.  I quietly slipped away, shutting his door behind me.

I stood for a moment outside his door, lingering over his words, and then said a quick prayer of my own and I walked down the stairs and turned off the lights.

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