I saw a thing online – It asked the question:
Whose mind would you like to be able to read?
Your partner, your child or your parent.
Right away, Shaunie said she’d want to know what happens in my head.
I’m glad she can’t – lol
I didn’t immediately know my answer.
I very quickly ruled out parent. That left partner and child. Who hasn’t at some point wondered WTF their partner was thinking? But my first thought was “Definitely my child; specifically Jay.”
I mean, that was my wish for such a long time. I dreamed about it and wrote about it and cried about it. I wanted to know my baby. I wanted to know what he liked and how he felt and what scared him.
When Jay was 4 years old I took my boys to the park. It had a little fenced-in playground. Other parents found spots on benches and sat while their kids ran around laughing and sliding and playing tag. I walked around – this way and that – Always making sure that I could see my boys and that they could see me. We weren’t at the point yet where I was comfortable not having them in my eye sight. They were too fragile. Ace with his over the top energy and Jay with his poor communication and frequent tantrums.
As I was leaning against the fence, Jay ran over to where I was standing and started staring up into a tree just on the other side. Of course my eyes followed his gaze where I noticed the squirrel that had captured his attention. He stood there for a while. Then he said “out.” It happened so quickly and so out of the blue that I wasn’t sure I had heard it correctly. He had never said out before. Up to that point, his entire vocabulary consisted of 2 words. Had he even said it at all or was it in my head? I looked around to see if anyone else had heard him because if they had, surely they would have made a big deal out of it. Nothing. Kids were still running and laughing and climbing. Parents were still sitting.
I panicked because he had said something. It was one word. But it was something and I needed him to know that I had heard him and understood him.
But Ace was still playing. I wanted to take Jay “out” and bring him closer to the tree and his squirrel but I couldn’t leave Ace there. By the time I grabbed Ace would the squirrel have moved on? Would my moment have passed?
That was our life. Always on edge, grasping at every straw and gently holding onto every precious morsel – lest we lose it. We could afford to lose or waste nothing.
Last weekend, I sent the boys to bring our garbage can around to the front of the house in preparation for Monday mornings pick up. It’s their standard Sunday chore. Every Sunday I have to remind them to do it. Every Sunday they complain about doing it.
“But, I have something to say” Jay quipped.
“Go get the trash can first and then you can say whatever you want” I told him.
Off they went and I was there with a ready ear upon their return.
It didn’t hit me until Shaunie and I were talking about the online question that I had been so cavalier about Jays desire to speak to me. My son, who I spent so much time waiting and wanting to hear any word from. 5 years ago; 3 years ago I would have told you that you were crazy if you told me this would happen. If you had said that I wouldn’t stop the world from spinning every time Jay wanted to share his thoughts.
“Go get the trash can first and then you can say whatever you want.”
When our neighbour offered to take my boys to the park with her son, Jay declined saying he’d prefer to stay inside as he’d had enough time outside and was hot. Later when he was invited to their house for dinner, he accepted. He did, however, ask if he could bring his own snack – weary as he was that they would be serving something he didn’t like.
He’s made it clear that he wants to go to a big water park this summer and he does not see the value in learning how to ride a 2 wheeler. He let me know that he was proud of himself for trying pink lemonade at camp and complained to his father that I take too many pictures. He says he wants to be a policeman when he grows up and he explained to a friend that even though school is out, he still needs his rest so he doesn’t mind having the same “early” bed time.
If he’s not happy with us, he shares why. If his feelings are hurt, he is open about it. If he’d prefer (frozen) at home pizza over our usual Friday trip to Costco complete with Costco pizza then he lets us know. If he’s excited or bored or nervous or thinks something is funny, we know all the details.
At bed time if he wants me to stay with him for a while and cuddle he will ask. Conversely, if he wants alone time, he will politely say “Do you want to go now? You can if you want. I won’t mind.”
At the local pool, he encouraged a friend who was nervous about going on the big slide. He has already let us know what kind of cake he wants for his next birthday (in January). If he’s mad about ripping a page in his book or about being told he has to do a chore before he gets a snack, he will be very vocal about his displeasure. If he thinks he’s not being treated fairly he will be the first one to speak up.
If Ace is talking and Jay interrupts, I let him know that he has to be respectful and wait his turn. His talking, while still cherished, does not take precedence over all things. Not anymore.
This is our life now. It happened ever so slowly – Yet, I have become so accustomed to it that it would be easy to overlook.
The bottom line is this … If he likes something he will say and if he doesn’t, he will also say. Of all the people in my house, Jay is now the one who is the most open and who is the least likely to be holding back or hiding his true thoughts.
He still has many challenges. He’s still socially out of tune sometimes and reacts to things in ways atypical to other children his age. He is still vulnerable to bullying and/or abuse, but gone is the crippling fear I used to live with that he will be bullied and/or abused and not be able to let me know.
So even though I’d love to understand HOW their brains work, I am inclined to agree with Shaunie that the kids deserve the privacy of their own thoughts. And even though I’m not sure if it would make things better or worse between us, I guess I’d choose to read my partners mind. I’m sure there are some real gems rolling around in her thought bucket.
By the way though, as their mother, I reserve the right to change my mind about all of this when they are teenagers.