Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

Breaking the Boy January 20, 2011

Filed under: and that's how I feel about that,Isaac,mommy brain — Elizabeth @ 11:54 AM

Although I really should be packing (because all I have done to prepare for our trip so far is paint my toenails a sparkly, Disney-princessy pink), sometimes a mama just has to write.  At least there is laundry happening even as I type.

Isaac.  “Enthusiastic” falls short as a descriptive word for this boy.  He loves.  He just loves.  Life, sunshine, friends, cuddly toys, purple grapes.  Sometimes it’s all too much for him and there’s nothing he can do but dance through the house screaming in joy.  Most recently, he is over-the-moon thrilled that his preschool class has grown by one and he has a new friend–Marcus.

After the snow break, when he found out that he would be going back to school (after missing a soul-crushing one day), he danced and jumped and screamed at the top of his lungs, “Yay school, I can’t wait to go to school, I love school, and I get to see MARCUS!!!!!!“.

We are a family that doesn’t hold back on affection.  Hugs, kissses, I love yous–they are constant.  And Isaac is learning about love at church.  He came home Sunday quoting the scripture:  We love because He first loved us.  He gave me the overview of their lesson:  Jesus loves EVERYBODY, even the mean people.  And his motto which he declares with pride:  I love EVERYfing and ALL THE Fings!!!!  And it shows when you meet him.  It just shows.

I was cutting up veggies for stir fry the other night and Jason had just come in from work.  He was talking to the boys about their days and he asked Isaac if he had seen Marcus at school.  Isaac said yes, but then his voice dropped a bit and he said sadly, “but he doesn’t want me to hug him anymore.”

It’s true.  My child is a close talker.  He is so affectionate and he becomes overcome with excitement and all he knows to do is share it with the people around him.  He wants to hug, he wants to dance, and they don’t always get it.

My heart sank and I quickly walked in the living room, where Jason’s face was showing all the emotions I was attempting to hide.  I made my voice as cheerful but non-chalant as possible and said, “you know, Goose, a lot of people just want to save their hugs for their family.  Hugs are special like that.  Now that I think about it, I sure wish you would save all of your hugs for us, because I would be sad if you gave them all away.”

He agreed, but a shadow fell across his face, like he knew this couldn’t be right.  Because he loves his friends…..so why isn’t it okay to show them? Or even worse, why don’t they want to be a recipient of his affection?

I told him one good idea might be that if he feels like hugging them, to give them a high five instead and then we practiced “up high and down low–too slow”.

He went along with it, but I could see the doubt.  The confusion because we’re supposed to love everyone, right?

I know he needs to learn this.  I know it isn’t appropriate as he gets older for him to hug all of his friends and tell them that he loves them.  I wish it was, but it’s not.  Because they don’t want it.  And they’re going to laugh at him.  Eventually they will probably tell him that only girls watch Olivia or boys don’t like pink.  They will say you should play football and hate gymnastics.  And he will be shocked.  They will slowly, slowly attempt to break my boy.

This morning in the shower I sobbed as I thought about it, because this time I had to be an accomplice.  An unwilling but necessary accomplice to the breaking of my boy.

Don’t hug your friends, I said.  Save them all for me.

I will never, ever, ever tire of them, my sweet, amazing child.

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15 Responses to “Breaking the Boy”

  1. Abby Says:

    I know our hearts will break for him many times and I am not looking forward to it. 😦 But he is the luckiest boy in the world. He shows that love because so many people love him just like that. I am and always will be one of those people. Tell Isaac I will take all the hugs he can give me.

  2. Lori Says:

    By far, the most difficult thing for me to grasp as a parent has been the fact that some of the BEST things about my child – the things that make me fall in love with him over and over again – are going to be the things that the world is going to tell him are not okay. They are going to be the things that people laugh at him for and that others are going to tell him is weird and not right. The thought of them breaking my boy breaks my heart too!! I get this post… I just get it.

  3. Aw, buddy… I hope his sweet spirit isn’t broken before he can make a beautiful difference in this world! It’s caring, wonderful people like him that will change all of us.
    I find it so strange that other people’s kids are NOT outgoing! A friend of mine has a very confident, extroverted little girl who is constantly approaching other kids on the playground and asking if they want to play. And the other kids look at her as though she’s orange with purple polka-dots. How does this happen? How is it that kids learn at such a young age that *different* is strange and something to be feared?
    Olive is similar to this friend’s daughter in that she’ll happily play with any little kid that comes along. She has this wise old soul that immediately empathizes with others’ spirits, and it makes me daydream about the compassionate career life has in store for her.
    I just hope I can instill in my kids the confidence they need to make it through rejection, peer pressure, and high school (yikes).
    And can we arrange Olive and Isaac’s marriage now? Because these two NEED each other 🙂

  4. Kelly Says:

    Oh boy, what a lesson to learn and so young. I sure hope Isaac doesn’t lose his sweet spirit because that seems to be a rare gift and something to be treasured.

  5. Grace Says:

    oh, isaac! i’ll take a hug anyday! (wait, does that sound creepy since i’m technically a stranger?? or, do i fall under EVERYfing?)
    i see this happen all the time as a teacher and it’s SO sad. and i can try and mediate and have class meetings about these things, but it’s just crazy how even at 5 (or 4, in isaac’s case), kids have things set in their minds that they classify as “different” and that they won’t hear you on. i hope isaac retains his unabashed joy, even if it has to be restrained around this other kid…i hope he holds on to his motto and that others come around when they see it in action.

    p.s. i so love that you described isaac as a closetalker. heehee…

  6. Yvonne Says:

    This is so hard. You want to let them be who they are and not break their wonderful spirits, and yet the world is a certain way and you don’t want they to be left out. We have had these conversations too and they are hard. But if Isaac has that much joy and it is just who he is, that won’t change. What a gift!

  7. deb jacobs Says:

    he could just ask them, is it okay if i hug you? and just let him know that some people don’t like hugs like you do. and it’s okay=)

  8. Christy Says:

    This post made me cry. A real, sad cry. Why isn’t it ok to show love to everyone? Isaac and Ella are a LOT a like – it often strikes me when you write about him. Mostly in their enthusiasm and affection (which is a HUGE part of them). Ella hugs and kisses everyone and sometimes her friends reciprocate, sometimes they push her away a bit. I’m trying to at least get her to just hug. Eventually we’ll move beyond that but right now there haven’t been too many issues with that. But I’ll never tire of them. Mommy can never get enough from either kid. Fortunately my 7 year old is still free with hugs and kisses for Mommy – hope that continues for a long time.

  9. Sue Says:

    life just isn’t fair…and it’s just not right that isaac has to learn this so soon. but, there is nothing wrong with being a family that doesn’t hold back affection. in fact, i think that super special and super important these days.

    we too are learning all kinds of ways to show love to people these days – being a good listener, helping others, calling those we care about that are far away, etc. it’s been good reminder for all of us. 🙂

    and…i really hope to see lots and lots of pictures of both isaac and matthew HUGGING all the characters at disney. no high fives. hugs.

    (KAAN…we’re seriously thinking about it!!!)

  10. Tiffany Says:

    Oh, what a sad sweet post. I am not looking forward to such conversations.

  11. Kristen Says:

    Oh Elizabeth, this made me cry for you and Isaac and all our sweet children.

    There is nothing more heartbreaking then sending your child out into the world and realizing that the inevitable process of growing up is going to bring with it hurtful moments.

    I know as Isaac gets older its not going to be appropriate for him to hug every person he meets, but that doesn’t mean he will stop sweet, joyful, loving boy you adore. I know, being the wonderful mother you are, that Isaac will learn to express that love and kindness in other ways – by being a good friend, by helping others, by maintaining a postive attitude. He may give high fives instead of hugs, but he will still be that joyful boy who loves life.

  12. robyn Says:

    we are so there. makes me sad often. how to pray and build his confidence when other kids are mean. ahhh, parenting. we should get them together at church to play and hug each other and be joyful!

  13. Jenny Says:

    You’re always making me cry. I so struggle with not wanting to conform to this world and knowing if I don’t Jack will be made fun of someday (for his LOVE of ballet dancing, pink, baby dolls…he has a big sister who he worships 🙂

    But I too hope he holds on to his joy and love, even if it makes him a bit different because hungry people will be drawn to His God by that love he is showing, that much I know.

    ps-I call my kids “goose” how funny 🙂

  14. Marcia Wine Jones Says:

    Thank goodness you are going to Disney World! Issac can hug all the characters there!
    I have been working with preschoolers for over 30 years and this is something that has always been hard for me. Kids should not have to give up who they are to be accepted! It always breaks my heart when they have to start learning what happens outside the family.

  15. Aunt JoAnn Says:

    You helped me remember watching these painful things happening. Charlie’s best friend when he was 5 was a boy on our street who was several years older, maybe 8 or 9. He was bright but immature for his own age, so he was great with our son being four years younger. Charlie loved this big brother thing, and adored him. But the kid knew it, and would abruptly ignore him for days at a time, and not be available if our son initiated the contact.Then when he felt in control, he would come back on his terms. Watching it was wrenching, but there was no other kid around so he would just wait for the older boy to decide he wanted to spend time with him. He was being the alpha male. I empathized whenever I could. I think if we shower our unconditional love on them, along with friends and family, they will get it enough to be resiliant. And I was never shy on sharing my opinions on human behavior, people’s insecurities or fears causing them to behave that way. It’s usually the bottom line when people are afraid of love or mean or nasty. They are hurting puppies trying to bite your leg, when they don’t realize that they could use a hug. And it’s good to learn to ask people if they want a hug. Inside they may be thinking or feeling hard about something else, and you surprise them. Reverse role play it, that gets the message home. But your homies will always take a tackle/hug. Thank the Good Lord!


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