Sunday, February 3, 2013

On Learning and Forgiveness

Dear Cole,

Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with all the things I need to teach you.  Every once in a while, I wish there was an age-by-age checklist so I know just when I'm supposed to introduce you to dangers you need to be aware of or skills you need to learn.  How old should you be when I start discussing Stranger Danger?  How do I teach you Stop, Drop, and Roll and how to call 911 without scaring the daylights out of you?

There's something else that I was hoping to put off teaching you until a little later on, but I'm afraid we have to discuss it now.  It's about asking forgiveness.

You see, a few weeks ago, I mentioned that we needed to take the car through the car wash.  You asked some questions about it, and I reminded you how much you liked the car wash last time we went through (months ago).  You thought about it for a while, then declared: "COLE NO CAR WASH.  TOO NOISY.  HURT EARS!" 

"Ok, buddy.  I won't make you go through the car wash if you don't want to.  We'll ask Daddy to take the car through and we'll stay at home."


But then, later on that week, we were out and about and it happened to be just the right time to go through the car wash.  It would be inconvenient to drop us off at home and have Chris go back out - and honestly, I just really didn't think it was that big of a deal.  So we got in line and started to go through.

Oh my son... you starting crying.  Big, crocodile, frightened tears rolling down your face.  You were scared. 

I climbed into the back and held your hand and sang you songs as we went through.  But the whole time I felt like crying too - I had dismissed your feelings.  I hadn't realized how REAL your fears and anxieties were and dismissed them like they were silly, like they didn't matter.  I KNEW the car wash was nothing to be afraid of... but that doesn't matter to you.  You were afraid, just like I'm afraid of meeting new people.  And fears need to be acknowledged and helped with, not just ignored and pushed through.

My boy, I need to ask your forgiveness for not LISTENING to you.  For not hearing your request and honoring it.  I need to remember that even if something is silly and unimportant to me, it isn't for you in your little world.  That the most important thing is for you to trust me to take care of ALL your needs, emotional and physical.  That by pushing you into scary situations doesn't help you overcome them, but makes you even more frightened.

 Some people might criticize me for this - saying that you have to experience new situations eventually, that you need to "get over it".  To them, I say: You are two years old.  You are desperately trying to make sense of this overwhelming world and all the dangers and excitement in it.  You have the rest of your life to "get over it".  Right now, the most important thing for you to know is that your mama and daddy will protect you and keep you safe, against any dangers, real or imagined.

For if I don't listen to you when you so clearly tell me that you are frightened and don't want to do something, how will I ever expect you to tell me what's wrong if you are faced with a bully at school? or if a trusted adult is abusing you? or if you are a depressed and moody teenager?   Even though you are only two, these are the building blocks of our relationship for the rest of our lives.  I promise to you, I will never disregard your feelings as silly or trivial again.

So the dozen or so times we drove by that car wash since the incident, and you tell me, "MAMA, NO CAR WASH! TOO NOISY! HURT EARS! COLE CRYING!", I tell you that I am sorry and that I won't take you through the car wash again without you asking to go.  "I'm so sorry you were sad, Cole.  Can you forgive me?"


I love you too, little man.

Love, Mama

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