It’s just a red plastic folder with his name on it, but the last few days it has tortured my son, causing him to melt down during school dismissal. Of course, it’s not really the folder, but what is contained inside: Homework
Yes, homework, and he doesn’t want it. Nope, he does not want it at all. Doesn’t want to bring it home, doesn’t want to do it, and the mere use of the “H” word will bring him to the brink of collapse.
Ok, no kid LIKES homework. But why this dramatic reaction?
Yesterday, as I brought the folder out of his backpack, my Boy fell to the ground and called himself an idiot. As in, “I can’t do that homework! I’m just an idiot!”
After convincing him we could get it done quickly, we got to work on 4 measurement problems, basically counting both our footsteps to measure distances in the apartment. It literally took no time to complete, and even included some giggles in the process. Still, he repeatedly bad-talked himself.
Each time I assured him the things he was saying simply weren’t true. He is smart and clever.
Eventually I reminded him that no one, not even him, is allowed to speak badly about my son.
Once finished, I started teasingly, “Wasn’t it silly to make such a fuss, kiddo? That homework wasn’t a big deal at all, and you did a great job.”
His reply? “No I didn’t. I just don’t get stuff. I’m a dummy.”
My mommy-sense prickling the back of my neck, I asked him, “Who is saying these things to you, baby? Who tells you all these mean things?” Please tell me, so I can go bananas on them.
He looked at me, then looked over at the gorgeous picture windows, and made a broad sweep with his hand. “All of them. Out there.”
“All of WHO, sweetheart?”
“The world, mama. The world tells me that.”
Stop a second, just let that sink in. That is some heavy truth about the source and influence of negativity in our daily lives.
My barely-school-age Boy feels like the World is telling him he is not capable.
Time for this mama to change the World.
My Boy is clever and funny. Simultaneously maddening and charming. He is big and strong, delicate and tender-hearted.
Last night at bedtime both my little Rebels were in the bathroom, pretending to brush teeth and playing around. Suddenly, Girl was in tears. She’d been laughing, tripped, and bumped her knee.
Once she was in my arms, Boy started to tell me what happened. To her annoyance, he made a little joke. More annoyingly, I snickered, and thus encouraged, Boy followed up with a catchy little ditty about his butt. Naturally, I laughed. He kept singing and shaking his rump, watching her over his shoulder.
Girl couldn’t help it, she had to embrace my favorite emotion, and laugh through her tears. My Boy, so often her tormentor, smiled broadly. “You feel better now, right, Girl? You don’t need to cry. I made you feel all better.”
Proud of himself, happy for her, my son was glowing at being able to help. In that moment, I was reminded that it was my Boy who first made a wee Girl laugh. So as we cuddled on his bed, I thanked him again for helping her and reminded him that he’s always had that ability to defuse her tears and help her find her smile.
As has become my habit, I snuggled him close, sending him off to the Land of Nod whispering all the ways he makes me proud.
Maybe, just maybe, I can fill his dreams with all his triumphs. Maybe when he wakes, the voice in his head will be mine. And when The World tries to shout him down, he will remember.
Meanwhile, this mama remains on a mission to change the World.
I will start by reminding you to be kind.
Because they are listening.
Choose your words with care.
My son, your daughter, the kid down the block… all our children are listening.
Be real, be positive, and please be kind.