It’s summer. Some of my friends were buried in tears week one. Others ran for the hills, literally: Get them outside, keep them busy, no time for chaos, right? A few have fabricated Montessori-inspired, in-home bubbles of peace and developmental synchronicity, which I adore, because it keeps me more sane than anyone. Until my friend’s kids show up “flaunting their wares,” as the flaunters’ mom so eloquently coined in her recent hilarious apology.
Because then, my kids are like, Flocka-Flocka This, Mom! What the Shitake Nonsense are you trying to Pull Here?!? Those guys have face paint and ice cream! And then I’m all, “Listen guys, I’m cheap and my brain is easily overstimulated, and I’ve therefore cultured you in a bubble, and you are therefore Not Authorized for Traditional American Summer Fun.”
At first, ever the forgetful optimist, I was fully, Woo, summer! I love summer! I love the free-flow. I love the bickering…wait. I love the feral meltdowns…ahem. We have regressed here in our tiny home. Some of us are five and it’s hot. The rest of us are human and it’s hot. And shrieky.
It is a terrible tragedy, when you are struggling to put something positive on social media. The President is a corrupt Bajillionaire with bad social skills, and my five year old is a tyrant. For real. I have given birth to a Warrior Baby, who is now going through all the crap-tastic developmental nuances a Warrior Baby must go through on his way to competent warriorship, such as–fear of ones own strength, and therefore practicing ones strength with only ones mother, and I’ll stop there to protect our dignity, you know?
Compounded by this…when he’s not swaddled in tyranny, he’s the cutest little Pre-K fellow, with all his sweetness flagging about. For instance, he just walked in from his picnic with sis in the shade of our Giant Elm Tree, where they are nibbling on lunch and perusing a stack of library books. He peeked around the corner and spied me typing away, with one of the popsicles he has claimed as his popsicles, in my mouth.
Well, the stick is clenched between my teeth, with the popsicle hanging upside down, actually. Normally, he’d have burst into flames. Instead, he looked at me with a gleam in his eye, exaggerated the “Huuuh!” sound with a coy little smile, and asked so sweetly, “Can I have a bite?”
Who is this child? I know not this speaker-asker-good-natured fellow. I know only shrieker-screamer. But hey, let’s waste no time, “Yes, of course!”
We’ve re-instituted nap. We’ve re-instituted “low stim” days. We’ve re-instituted trips to the park every day, and early. We’ve re-instituted the tidy eating we all thrive on. (Popsicles included.) We’ve re-instituted consistency in karate, now that we can. A schedule. Not too rigid. Not too loose. #kidsthriveonschedules
Let’s talk about karate. My little guy is terrified of his dojo. He’s terrified of “big kids” with higher belts. He is terrified of black belts, whom he is certain will try to hurt him. A few sweet months ago, this was all lost on him. We have gained new insight, and it’s all somehow different. So now, every day at the dojo is a new…
Hold on, popsicle is starting to drip.
…catastrophe. I keep myself as still and calm as possible, while helping Warrior Baby fight his own inner fight with himself, and not with me. Every day, he says, “I hate karate!” Then, when he has battled himself through that lie, and made it onto the mat, I sit back. I work to reclaim any incidental adrenaline he was able to effectively puncture out of me, while he smiles and admires his Sensei, and proceeds with happily, and methodically learning how to be in his body with discipline and joy. And he smiles. The whole time. #hateskarate
So this morning, I woke to these thoughts, flitting past my consciousness, on the ticker tape materfamilias: God bless the dojo.
No, really, thank all the gods, and God, and/or whomever you reading this may assign your understanding of all things spiritually life-affirming onto. And should you find yourself in the absence of God or Deity, i.e. you atheists and your #carbon–Thanks, carbon.
We take our kids out into the community, and we find a village, right? Well, these days, we are all spread out, and we pay for our “village,” and we call it “extracurriculars.” Let’s be honest, it’s parental hunter-gatherer action. We google and call and bing and yelp our way into contracts with other proficient adults, who we hope will help us enrich the lives of our children.
In committing my family’s monies to the mission, vision, and feel of this dojo, I am essentially asking a collection of community members to help shape my Warrior Baby’s future ability to feel comfortable, confident, and discretionary in his body, mind, and spirit/carbon worship, whichever he may manifest. I am asking for this community to assist with modeling capability, prosocial values, and therefore I, and we, are leaving him tiny cairns everywhere he looks, that might someday lead him to happiness in life.
That’s a lot of pressure. And let’s be equally honest in stating that there are no illusions here, happiness is not a guaranteed outcome at all, for our children. Comfort, competence, and success are not guaranteed. And in some ways, it’s unrealistic to expect that of a dojo, or a soccer coach, or an outdoor school, or a dance teacher.
But it is the truth, and this morning, right after I woke with, OH MY God/gods/carbon, the dojo is expected, by all of us, to help our kids wrangle themselves into sync, the deepest feelings of horror (for them) and gratitude (for what they are providing) washed over and through me.
So, in honor of all the coaches, teachers, sensei, and other adult mentors out there, thoughtfully designing safe places for our kids to thrive in, our tuition is never enough. For all you have created, that allows parents to sit down, or park outside, and quietly reclaim drops of spent adrenaline, I thank you. I parent, you teach. Thank you.
From the bottom of my heart, I am certain words will never come close to capturing how deeply your work, and what you provide, matters for a family. Or the difference it makes for those of us in the throes of quite normal, yet explosively disruptive developmental combat. And especially during the little windows where success is buried beneath so much suck.
Photograph by C.S. Beard, entitled, Selfie With My Raspberries.