First stirrings, a little flutter of movement in my belly. I already knew I was pregnant but with both my sons that first flutter made me catch my breath…life, another life within myself. I had a little hitchhiker, a miracle so common to humans but for me…a miracle still. And from that tiny flutter came an even greater wonder. A full fledged human being…complete unto himself. Sure we fed, clothed, educated and loved both our sons but my boys have always been their own selves. Each one heard his own drummer from the beginning.
Young people have a sense of who they are from the start. Offer choices of colors to a three year old and he’ll pick what he likes. Not long after that though, some kids begin to choose the socially expected. Sadly, offer choices of color to a six year old and he might say what he thinks he should like.
That’s where the real parenting comes in, not only for the biological parents but for the rest of the village. And during the development years is when we can catch the talented, so-called misfits and nurture them to be their best selves. I wonder how many unique people we have never known, how many gifted people marching to a different drummer we have missed out on, how many writers, sculptors, entertainers have been stunted. What if he is a contented, quiet kid who hates sports but loves to draw? So what if every child were seen for who he is and accepted?
Well, mothers come in different packages too. And where in the world we do our mothering matters. I taught my boys hide and seek. Some teach their babies how to hide.
My own mother grew up in a highly competitive home with a mother who would have been childless if she had her choice. As it was, all five of her children had to be pretty independent and assertive or be ignored. Thus when I went to school in the city and was jumped by bullies Ma did what she knew. She taught me to keep my left arm tucked in front to protect my middle and to throw a punch straight from my right shoulder with my weight behind it. Being just 5 feet tall she knew how to defend herself. I was a tough little five year old when my sister and I hit the suburbs, Ma had to help us revise our social skills. Yes, mothering is an ever changing, creative role. Ma also taught me to never lose the ability to see beauty where you least expect it and that I have a right to say,”No”.
Best of all, Ma really heard me. Are we listening to the kids in our lives…not just our own, or those we mentor, but the neighborhood kid who’s pouting as she walks home? I told a solemn girl last week that the color of her scarf looked beautiful on her. Her face lit up into a lovely smile,.
Do we recognize and respect the dignity of children? Just asking…