My almost-19-year-old son is not much of a communicator. It's something that I bug him about occasionally. It's a little ironic that I bother him about it, because I'm certain this stoic attitude came from me. I stil work on communicating with people I love. I am a little better at it now than I was at his age, but if I am speaking truthfully (and I'm trying), then the degree of improvement has been small-ish.
I added the "ish" there, because I'm also trying to cut myself some slack, but that's another topic, and this post was supposed to be about my son. SO...
My friend's pediatrician told her something very wise. There are three things you can't make kids do, as a parent: eat, sleep, and use a toilet. I never wanted to battle over food, because I didn't want food to have that kind of emotional baggage. I was very lucky to have two good, cooperative sleepers. The toilet?
After months of battling with my daughter about toilet training, I decided that I was not going to battle the next kid, and I let him decide when he wanted to do the whole 'potty like a big boy' thing. Which meant that he, like his sister before him, left diapers behind at nearly the age of four, when it was time for Pre-K. My sanity was saved, but not my budget. Diapers that fit a three-year-old kid are expensive!
As part of getting ready for Pre-K, he had a physical, like his sister had. He was very excited to get to pee in a cup! It turned out that there was just the merest hint of blood in his urine, and the doc wasn't alarmed, but wanted to do an ultrasound, just to err on the side of caution.
It was scheduled for the following week, and I spent some time telling him about how it wouldn't hurt, and that the doctor would be able to use a special machine to take a look inside of him.
Whatever I said, I somehow managed to increase his fear, rather than allay it, and on the way to the doctor's office for the ultrasound, he said, with tears in his little blue eyes, "Are they gonna take off my brown?"
He grabbed the skin on his arm, and said, "My brown. Are they gonna take it off to see inside me?" We are a pretty pale family, but the boy has always gotten a bit of a suntan, despite the sunscreen.
He thought they were going to remove his skin to look inside.
Let me tell you how much my heart broke for him, right there. Poor baby, had been worried for days but didn't say a thing, until he could no longer hold it in.
Ready for more?
The summer of 1999, I was getting ready to return to college to get my teaching degree. We had been talking to the kids about it for months, as it meant a few changes in schedules, etc, for all of us. The boy, now seven years old, asked again, with those damn blue eyes, "Mom, when are you moving into the dorm?"
Gah! How long he had been carrying that one around, I don't know, but he managed to break my heart again. He knew that college students lived in dormitories. The idea of a commuter campus was beyond his imagining. Older sister didn't seem worried about anything, so maybe he thought she wasn't concerned because she was nine years old, and maybe when you are nine, you don't need mom so much.
Lately, when he asks us about things like the Instructor-in-Training program he is joining at the martial arts school, I can see him framing questions carefully. I know there is some kind of fear in there somewhere, and now, if there were tears in his blue eyes, I'd have to look way up to the top of his six-foot-three frame to see them.
Damn kid. Better not break my heart again.