i want my children to be liked. i want them to be popular & loved by their peers. i want them to be considered attractive. i want them to have friends.
i also want them to be kind, generous & loyal. i want them to reach out to everyone & not pass judgement. i want them to be an example of Christ & His love for everyone.
(i'm not starting a religion debate. we're raising our children in a Christian household because that is what we want to do. they will be allowed to make their own decisions as they grow older but you can bet your bottom we'll be making every effort to gently steer them in the direction that we ourselves find so much joy in.)
i think i want what most parents want. & it seems like it should be so easy. raise them right & they'll turn out A-Ok. right? isn't that what we're told?
so why do i sometimes lay awake agonizing about their futures.
will they have friends? will they be strong in their faith? will they be "pretty"? will they be bullied or bullies? will they...???
on the faith front: lead by example. ok- that shouldn't be too hard. i'm down with Christ. i'm a Christian. i try to lead a good life & be nice. good times.
but i fall so short. so, so short.
sometimes i don't pick up my bible for...ever. i forget to take a minute & pray. i don't think before i speak. i'm not nice. i ignore the needs of others & don't make the effort....i tell the husband to kiss my ass.
normal things. normal things that add up. normal things that i realize can have a profound effect on young minds & souls. i've realized that i really need to work on me so that i can work with them.
people used to ask me what i was the most scared about (before having children). was it keeping them safe? was it making sure they didn't break any bones? was it the fact that i had no idea what to expect?
& i always answered the same thing: i fear for their souls. i'm scared that i'm not up to the task of rearing them in the same way that i was reared. to rely on God & have faith. to be reverent & trusting. to live for Him & not themselves. to know where their soul is going when they die.
how do i do that? how does anyone do that? that's a...big deal. that's a lot. that's my responsibility.
but yeah. so we've been making an effort. we joined a church. books about God & movies with a message are pretty abundant in our house. praying before meals- we so need to work on this one. praying before bed- another area that needs work. praying in general- yeah, working on that. an all around conscious effort to be good examples- we do ok. we could do better, but we try.
so as worried as i am that i'm going to royally screw up, i know we can do it. because we have to. because it's most important thing. simple as that. & that helps me sleep at night.
on the friends front: if there is ever a place that makes me worry about the likability of my offspring it's the mall playplace.
besides being a breeding ground for over 7 million types of bacteria, it's also a breeding ground for major parental insecurity.
letting your child play in the mall playplace is essentially like releasing them into the wild.
you're relinquishing control to the powers that be. God bless & stay safe my little ones.
but seriously. the girls adore the playplace. it rates up there with being outside, being naked & eating cookies. they can barely contain themselves as i remove their shoes & tell them to be careful.
while some children are content to stand at the edge, timidly clinging to their parent's pant legs & surveying the action at a safe distance- my children run pell-mell into the fray of writhing little bodies without a second thought.
honestly, it's more like a mosh pit than a playplace & i hover on the outskirts ready to pull my children from danger if need be.
more often than not i also find myself saving & parenting other children as the majority of the adults sitting around consider the playplace to be their personal babysitting & are consumed with texting, scrolling & yapping on their iPhones.
i shoot dirty looks & scowl dissaprovingly- but no one seems to notice. i can't tell you the number of times i've raced after a child, that i did not birth, as they escape the confines of the play area. their gleeful shrieks at freedom are quickly replaced with a hefty dose of dissapointed & fearful wails as a random stranger picks them up & hauls them back to "safety".
but i digress. friends.
since for a few moments my own littles are otherwise occupied, i can study them. i can watch & focus. & i see alex shyly approach another child & smile. holding out her hand in a silent offering, "be friends?"
and, oh, i can't even describe how my heart swells when the other child smiles in return & grabs her hand. & i get choked up & misty eyed as said child drags my offspring to a slide & pushes her down it...headfirst.
& when another child comes over to join & they laugh even as they butting heads (literally) & tripping over one another- i can't wipe the stupid grin from my face.
they like her! they really like her! Gosh, my kid is spectacular. ::fist pump::
but sometimes that offering goes unreturned. as my child stands there, soulfully innocent, the other child looks her up & down & quickly dismisses her. as they run off to play with someone else i watch my child stand there, still smiling, completely unaware. she looks around & i literally think i feel my heart breaking for her.
i'm torn. part of me wants to go grab the errant child & yell, "LIKE MY KID DAMNIT!" (which would garner me no points on the leading by example scale). while the other part of me wants to go scoop her up & squeeze her. & then the most sensible part of me knows that i just need to watch & wait.
because without fail, if her little hand isn't grabbed by a stranger, it WILL be grabbed by someone who is always waiting in the wings...
& when that happens, i basically explode with joy. like, if i was any happier i'd probably be breaking some sort of law. my chest puffs out with pride- look at that, look at my girls!
i frantically motion to get the husband's attention & point out this monumental moment in the bird sister's history.
he sees & acknowledges with his own smile.
we watch our girls grin & babble at one another & then we usually watch alex slap brynn & brynn retaliate by pulling alex's hair.
the spell is broken. timeouts ensue.
& usually the same child that ignored alex 5 minutes earlier will come over with her own hand outstretched, smile in place, "be friends?"
& sometimes my kids grabs the friendship offering.
& sometimes she doesn't.
& then i watch someone else's child stand there with an extended arm & un-broken smile & my heart starts flip-flopping all over again.
& then brynn toddles over...you see how this works?
& i'm happy. because my girls will always have a friend. i'm sure of it.
gah. i cannot be the only parents with these crazy thoughts. i cannot be the only parents who wants EVERYTHING for their child. i know i'm not. right?