Last week, my firstborn child turned seven. As I continue to get to know my children and their personalities, I have come to call my intense and sensitive son Izzy my twin, and my feisty 5-year-old daughter Yvette my alter-ego! As I have my serious heart to heart talks with them about things they are facing in school – and yes, even at their young ages, they “face” issues at school – I often let them know that I understand what they are going through because I had the same experiences when I was growing up. I like to let them know that they are not alone and that “Momma knows.”
But I had an interesting epiphany a few days after Izzy’s birthday. I have many childhood memories going back to pre-school days. I remember not liking the monkey bars because I hated that “burning” sensation I felt on my hands when I slid down the wooden pole. When I put my son’s age into perspective, I thought back to 1976, the year I turned seven (go ahead, I’ll give you a second to do the math!). Not only do I vividly remember events of that year and beyond, but I can recall my feelings about many events. It made me feel even more connected to my son, because now I can relate to him more specifically the thoughts and feelings associated with the situations I will be counseling him on. I was, and still am, quite the introvert and often kept my thoughts and feelings to myself. Fortunately, Izzy is more apt to share with me during our fireside chats.
That was the year my sister graduated from High School. On the morning of her graduation, she had developed some strange temporary palsy which caused the right corner of her lip to curl up slightly, so that she appeared to be sneering in many of her photos. She was quite upset by this – what graduating senior wouldn’t be? I remember crying for her inside and wishing that it would go away before the day was over. It was also the year my father bought what was to become my favorite Cadillac – a beautiful midnight blue, 1976 Cadillac Sedan de Ville. Shortly afterward, we had to travel to his home in Richmond, Virginia for his cousin’s funeral – the first funeral I had ever attended. Izzy too will attend his first funeral next week, and I have already begun preparing him for what he will witness, Remembering the questions in my head back in 1976, I feel I can better prepare him for what he might be feeling, as well as seeing.
I am thankful for what I am considering this powerful memory tool, one that will help me to continue to be as engaged as possible with my little ones. My hope is that by the time they enter those extremely awkward pre-teen years, they will have felt a greater sense of connectivity with me and know that they are not alone. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to be their friend – I’m their Momma FIRST! But at least they will know that I didn’t just become an adult overnight – I had to grow up and experience many of the same things they are experiencing.
(WriteNow Challenge Day 19)