It surprises me, the gravitational pull to reach in to control or fix my kids. Even the super small stuff. Yesterday a certain someone wanted nothing to do with me and my opinion. I can’t say that I blame her.
“Have you brushed your hair?” I lightly lob her way as we get in the car. Of course, “lightly” is the key word, for I’m keenly aware of age associated super-sensitivity and a teen-induced mentality that everyone is disapprovingly looking at her (just sayin’). My thought… if you don’t want raised-eyebrow whispers as you walk by, why not brush your hair? Am I off?
Catastrophically damaged by her mother’s insensitivity and flat out rudeness, she whimpers, “I thought it looked good. I worked really hard to get it this way.”
Then I, with every ounce of fortitude, stuffed my would-be response, “How many days has it been since you’ve washed it?” and I literally force my hand from handing her the brush resides the car console for just such on-the-way-to-school emergencies.
I’m pretty sure that at this point in her life, she needs less “judgement” from me and lots more love.
Instead of the phrase “he won’t go to first grade with a pacifier” tape running through my head, I need to play “this is a phase, it will all be done in a couple, few, maybe five years. She won’t go to college with dirty hair.” Then I try to pump myself up, “They need to navigate these roads. She needs to weather the bumps and figure it out… herself.”
I know for me, at this point in my life, I don’t really want advice unless I ask for it. She’s probably the same way. But we parents know that during the precarious tween/teen years, they rarely ask… even though they need the advice. And herein lies the balance between mothering/training and letting, sometimes pushing, a kid to own his or her life.
As if on cue while, we’re waiting for school drop-off #1 to start, I see this story about a friend of ours who has put their money on letting their kid own his life. And by own his life – I mean his own life. He helped his parents decide to amputate his own leg in his fight against cancer.
One of the most difficult conversations that a parent can have is telling their child that he or she is sick. But children can actually help make big decisions about their own health, experts said, and one Dallas eighth-grader is doing just that. (CBS-11 Keep Kids Involved in Their Own Health Care, 10/22/12)
Crazy that this would put wind in my sails as I look at the disheveled hair next to me. The Giddens actively embrace that kid’s opinion. He has owned his life. He’s taken an incredibly hard situation and met it head on. Would it be the same if they had imposed upon rather than involved Luke in the decisions? I don’t know. Dr Leavey sure stated his approval: “They’ve embraced Luke and Luke’s opinion and Luke’s preference and Luke’s thoughts.”
And where do the Giddens land? On faith and trust in the One who promises to take care of us. And they’re learning from Luke: “He’s just taught us so much about faith and trusting and … it’s not believing in the results. We’re not saying God is good if he is healed. God is good all the time.”
Hmmm… such a good word.
So, I guess the point is – involve them. Let them decide. Hair is so small. Medical care so large. The transfer of ownership is as much of a learning process for me as it is my kids.
And sure enough, as we pull into the school parking lot for drop-off #2, Crazy Hair grabs a cute headband, whips her hair around and into the fabric in one swooping motion and looks at me. What could I do but smile … she looked terrific. Once again, I made a mental note: when at all possible, keep hands off and opinion to self. Love the socks of those terrific kids riding next to you – more often than not by putting it into action belief in them by keeping my hands off.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
Please keep the Giddens in your prayers. It isn’t an easy road, but their faithful trek is nothing but inspirational.