(Yes, today is Tuesday, and I should be posting a picture for Time Warp Tuesday, but last night my computer informed me I have reached my quota for photos and I'm not sure what to do about that).
Did you ever cry in a Target? I did today. This past weekend, my husband bought my six year old some Angry Bird decals to put on his bedroom walls. He already had a sports themed bedroom, with footballs, soccer balls, baseballs, and basketball decals on his walls, so now the room is a bit confusing... and overwhelming, but that's another story. This morning he asked if he could "Please, please go to Target after school, so I can get some more Angry Bird stickers with my birthday money?" I explained that there probably wasn't any more room on his walls for more stickers, and he said he would like to put them on paper and make a book. "Hey, it's your money!", I answered.
Now, this is the flashback part of the story, and when I say flashback, I mean WAY BACK. Like, me in elementary school back. There's cute little me, standing there awkwardly, looking like I wish I could shrivel up and disappear. I'm standing in line, waiting to be picked to play kickball. Gym class - I'm sure some kids enjoyed it, but I was never one of them. I would stand there, praying in my head, "Please don't let them pick me last... Please don't let them pick me last...", looking down, so they wouldn't see the desperation in my eyes. I was awful at kickball. Really awful. I kicked it up every single time, and I got out almost every single time. I can still hear the taunts of "Easy out!" Also, I certainly wasn't popular. I always had friends, but never in the popular crowd. From my memory, we played kickball A LOT, and the popular kids were always chosen to be the "pickers". Maybe gym teachers were popular kids, because they certainly never seem to understand the plight of the unpopular.
Back to the present. I picked up my son, and started asking him the same ridiculous questions and getting the same ridiculous answers.
"How was school?"
"What did you do?"
"I don't remember".
Today, though, was a conversation that completely shook me, and one I don't want to ever forget.
"How was gym class?"
"Good... We played hockey again... I got two goals!"
"Two goals huh? Good job!"
"I was finally on the blue team today!"
"Oh yea? How did you get on the blue team today?"
"Alyssa picked me. She was the captain on the blue team".
"Cool! I'm glad she picked you. Did she pick you first?"
"No, I think I was picked last".
"She picked you last?! That stinks!" (my brain flashing back to cute little me again)
"It's okay. I usually get picked last".
"You do?!" (trying to keep the hysteria out of my voice and not punch my hand through the dashboard)
"Does that bother you?"
"What do you mean, bother me?"
"Does it make you sad when you get picked last?"
"It makes ME sad that you get picked last"!
"It's not my fault, Mom".
(Instant tears welling up in my eyes) "Oh honey, I know that! Of course it's not your fault! I'm not mad at you. It just makes me sad because I used to be picked last in gym class and I didn't like it".
I was going to let it end there. I really was, but I just kept thinking about my sweet boy standing there waiting and waiting to be picked.
"Dylan? Who do you like the most in school?"
"I don't know. Maybe Alyssa?"
"Who do you think likes you the most?"
"I don't know".
"Do you think Alyssa likes you the most?"
"I don't know. I think she likes me, but maybe not the most".
"Who does she play with the most?"
"I don't know".
"Who does Arjun play with the most?"
"I don't know".
"Dylan! Don't you pay attention to the other kids? Maybe if you paid attention more, they would play with you more!"
"I like to play by myself sometimes, Mom".
"I know... but..."
(He already knew what I was thinking and what I was going to say). "That's just how YOU feel. I'm sorry, Mom. That's just how I am".
I felt like someone was squeezing my heart. I couldn't breathe for a minute. As I fought back a full on sob fest, I grabbed Dylan in my arms and hugged him.
"Dylan, you don't have to apologize for who you are. I love you just the way you are. I am SO sorry. I guess I just worry about you having friends so much, because I just want you to be happy".
When his little eyes looked up at me and he said "I AM happy", I couldn't hold back the tears any longer.
I cried in Target. I would like to think that crying in Target would be so memorable that I will be changed from this moment on. I like to think I will stop trying to force my child to be the person I want him to be, but if I'm being honest, I'm not sure that is the case. Why do we do that? Why do we try to change our children, instead of accepting that they are perfect exactly the way they are? Why do we project our fears, goals, and dreams onto them? It's a heavy weight for their little shoulders to carry. We tell ourselves we just want them to be happy, but they already are. They are happy, just the way they are. I'm going to read this post every time I need to remember that.