The boys had a short run in the kiddie pool the other day.
My oldest argued with me over wearing a swim shirt. He is blessed with my husband’s skin that burns easily and after re-discovering this during the first kiddie pool run, we insisted he wear a shirt. He was fine with it for a couple days and then he rebelled.
“It is no fair my brothers don’t have to wear a shirt! I’m not wearing one!” he shouted. Yet at that moment, watching his already pink skin shining in the sun, I decided the shirt was the most important thing. Unable to change his mind I shouted “Then everybody out. Pool is closed!”
Three grumpy boys came into the house and got dressed. And my oldest continued to be upset. And mommy… well mommy broke all the rules of empathy. I kept telling him the shirt wasn’t a big deal and that frustration and massive upset about a shirt was ridiculous. I was definitely not listening. That is until he said:
“I don’t want to be different anymore.”
Oh. It wasn’t just the shirt. It turns out it was also the hearing aids… all of it. All coming to a head in a tired boy – tired due to the sun and all the energy it takes to be upset… but also a boy a bit tired of being the only one who knows what it feels like to be him in this house.
He eventually recovered and moved onto other things, but I haven’t stopped thinking about this moment. Particularly my response to it. I told him the shirt didn’t matter. I told him to stop being so upset. I told him about all the ways he and his brothers are alike.
But he just needed me to listen. Just listen. And later, after the tears had dried, remind him that every part of him is special and to be seen and celebrated from his two blue hearing aids to his love of animals to his unique ways of learning and more.
Truth be told, I wouldn’t change a thing about my son. And I want more than anything for him to feel that way about himself too.
This morning my prayer is that we all have ears to listen to others, to sit with them in their pain and in their joy… and allow their stories to move us to create a world where everyone is seen and celebrated for all God created them to be.