Today I decided on the word that best characterizes my son. Bonhomie. He is a genuine bonhomme, possessed of a truly pleasant and affable disposition. I like him a lot.
I like him even more as he grows. I know the teen years are coming, and I know that all the chemicals washing through his brain are going to bring changes that can only result in him becoming a TEENAGER, but the glimpses of the future I get in his more mature moments–like when he stops himself mid-action and says he needs to start over properly, or corrects himself when he’s being rude, or congratulates an opponent on a great play and tells the player how proud he is of them, or when he turns his efforts to self-enforced politeness–feed my optimism that no matter how badly he might smell, how loudly he might play his music, how much he might argue about the unfairness of the rules, he will still lovingly, and playfully pat me on the head from his new vantage of height and try to do the right thing. My moments of greatest pride are when I realize that B and I are raising someone we both would have sought out for friendship, were he our peer. And my moments of greatest relief are when I realize that Thor is going to attract the kind of friends that B and I have today.
Every day, I tell Thor these things:
- I love you more than anything in the world.
- I like you, and I like being around you.
- I am proud of you.
- You are a good person.
- You have a great mind.
- You are the best part of my day.
- I will always love you.
I strive to back up those words with actions. Spending time with him, having real conversations with him, really listening to him, reading to him, drawing with him, sharing my thoughts with him, answering his questions, and letting him poke his fingers into what I am doing–you know, until I have to go lock the bathroom door and beg for five minutes alone. It isn’t enough to say the words. The words without the back-up are just empty, and he’ll start looking for what he thinks fills them.
The idea is for him to be confident enough in having a foundation of love and support at home, that his metaphorical legs will be strong enough to leap over any cracks he finds in the foundations everywhere else. The idea is for him to be confident enough in his value and self-worth (which we back up by feeding his mind) that he doesn’t even notice peer pressure, save to see that it exists and he doesn’t need to take part in it. The idea is to give him the childhood it takes to face the teenage years without falling into the deep end. Actually, the idea is to give him enough of a push out of the kiddie pool, that he can swim to the deep end on his own power, get out, and start doing cannon balls off the diving board. Because we all know that the deep end is where the fun is. It’s just a matter of knowing how to swim in it without drowning.
I am incredibly thankful for his grandparents, who give him confidence in ways parents cannot. I am thankful for the teachers he’s had, who have understood him and loved him. And I am thankful for our friends, who have always treated him with adult-like respect, and who have modeled great behavior to him.