“I would never do that at school or at church!”
He had just relieved himself of a little gas. And, since he was sitting on one of our metal stools at the kitchen island, it was loud and unmistakable. Still, he tried to blame it on something else. But quickly realizing the futility in accusing some other source, he confessed.
“Then, why on earth would you do it here?” I ask, looking for a window to open.
“Because,” he sheepishly grinned. “.. Home isn’t embarrassing.”
And, despite my desire to flee and seek shelter in a flowering meadow, I sank into the words that crossed smiling lips on his bright-eyed face.
“Isn’t embarrassing” means safe. He’s okay to be himself. He’s accepted. Escaped gas doesn’t produce whispers, pointed fingers, muffled judgment or laughter in a safe home. Granted, rolled eyes and loud moans of disgust, especially while in the car on a cold/rainy days where we must choose between an odoriferous prison or nature’s elements, fill the air. But they are safe moans. They come from people who above all – even though it might not always seem that way – love you.
A safe home welcomes (okay – sometimes endures) authenticity. Cold prickly can live in a safe home. But, a safe home is a place where no one has to be happy all the time. Because – who is … happy all the time? It’s a place where kids bicker and sometimes fight. But its also a place where no one messes with your brother.
His “isn’t embarrassing” comment made me think about other tell-tale signs of a safe home.
- Freedom to – well, what’s discussed above .
- Bad Breath. I walked upstairs this morning and felt like I was swimming in an ocean of halitosis. As I ventured from room to room, making sure the natives were stirring, I actually winced entering one or two of the rooms. Then I thought – isn’t it nice that they can each wake up, after a sound slumber, and not worry about something like bad breath. We sometimes get it in the car, too. Then I watch a sister slip her brother a piece of gum as they walk to the entrance of their school. And my heart warms. The breath is fine around each other – even in the midst of moans – but they sure aren’t going to let anyone else judge a sibling. That’s sweet safety.
- Depleted Closets. You know your home is safe when you can go through your sister’s or mother’s closet to find just the right item to wear without asking. Sure there might be some push back, “Hey, that’s my shirt.” But at the end of the day, it’s nice to feel safe enough to rummage and wear.
- Sarcasm. Every time one of Snopes friends shows up at our house, Fury greets her with a very dry, “What are you doing here?!” accusation. The first time I heard him, I assumed the worst, quickly pulled him aside and started to begin a lecture to end all lectures on rudeness – until I saw her reaction. And I backed off. In a safe home, certain sarcasm is endearing. Love, not judgement, rules.
- Tears. Real gut-wrenching tears in front of others is a tell-tale sign of safety. Not only a sign of a safe house, but of safe friends. The other night, a couple of the kids had friends over for dinner and to spend the night. One thing led to another and a certain fiery youngster felt mistreated in a major way. And he couldn’t let it go. After almost an hour of trying to help him work it out, we all sat on the couch to watch the end of a movie. I put my arm around the kid, who started to cry – crocodile tears of sadness – at the mistreatment, being misunderstood and the injustice of it all. His friend was sitting right next to him. And, I was floored. I wondered what friends I would have ever felt safe enough to cry in front of at his age. Now that’s a safe friend. And I loved that my guy felt safe enough to work it out with all of us.
- Typos. This is where I get to thank you guys. I thought about myself and where I feel safe. And I was moved by the fact that all of you are kind enough to put up with my typos and my wayward thoughts and my flakiness. It’s different when I was writing for DMoms and when I post for other entities. But with you, I know you’re safe. You stick with me, typos and all.
Safe, I think, is knowing you’re loved for who you are. It’s not a free ride. It’s not a free-for-all. It’s loving judgement without abandoning. It’s embracing the bad breath moments while offering help to stop the bad breath. It’s getting into the mud and mire with someone and sitting next them as they cry. It’s letting go of the small stuff, then spurring on to greatness.
“… it’s not embarrassing.”
Thanks for walking the road with me.