Whenever Michael starts getting chatty with me, that’s when I realize that I am on to something good. That is, I am on to doing something good with him. I am reaching him somehow, about the importance of family, bonding and things outside of himself, the same way my Mom reached out to me. After snack and homework the other night, Michael started asking me questions about his maternal great grandparents. He was particularly interested in my maternal grandmother and how she spent time with us, baking, talking and discussing religion. He laughed and asked me to recount stories of when she would admonish my brother for teasing me, if she gave us junk food treats like his grandmother does, and if she talked about God a lot. It was a beautiful conversation. He also asked about his other great grandmother. She was a fiesty one with a temper, strict but had a good moral code. I enjoyed answering these questions while we did, believe it or not, crafts together. We were putting together some Minion craft figurines in a book I had ordered for him through his Scholastic book club. He has recently become a major Minions fan due to a good friend’s love of them!
What struck me about this desire to get close to me again, was that it has happened right on the heals of all the behavior challenges we’ve been having over the last few months. He has been pushing me away only to bring me closer. I see now that Michael, like all children, is trying to figure out when he ends and I begin, as I have been trying to figure out where I end and he begins.
We are close. We love one another and have a strong bond, but are two separate people. The bond between mother and child is a tough one to interpret at times, but I am learning how to read him better. He’ll still take me by surprise. Like the other day we had a fight. I was angry, he was in the wrong and I asked him to apologize. He did, but looked at me sadly and said:
“Do you still love me Mommy?”
I couldn’t believe my ears.
“Of course honey.”
“But when you’re mad you stop loving me, right?”
Where on earth did he get these notions? Where does any child? I quickly corrected him.
“Yes, I was mad at you Michael, but I never ever stop loving you. You apologized. I forgave you.”
“Really? But how much do you love me Mommy?” And he looked scared as he waited for my answer.
I smiled and gave him the answer I have been giving since he was a baby;
“I love you more than anything in the whole universe!”
He smiled, relieved.
Our kids are complex creatures. They read into things messages we don’t always want to convey. I feel fortunate I can communicate with Michael so well, but there are always times when mixed signals get through. The lesson I took away from our bonding is to try to show Michael clearly how much he means to me in small ways every day. He needs that reassurance. Maybe the behaviors are even happening to some degree to test that love, but this was my eye opening moment, and a beautiful one at that, to share our family history.
Exceptional Parents, what precious moments have you had recently where you had a chance to clear the air with your Exceptional Children? What lessons have they taught you about family, life and showing love? Remember, our kids are our best teachers. Let them lead the way to help you get more in touch with yourself as their parent. They need to know you are there regardless, and you need to show them that the best way to reach you is through time spent doing simple things. Until next time.