When kids are little, it seems that everyone is set on telling you to not worry. “Don’t worry they wont be doing _______ in college.” I guess its true, most kids probably wont be wearing diapers while walking the halls of high school, or college. And a majority probably wont be carrying their comfort items with them either. The thing with kids that are a bit …. Different than the normal, run of the mill kids is that no one tells you not to worry. They tell you to not let them do this, don’t let them do that, make them do this or that. Their reasoning? Quite simple. “You don’t want them to be doing THAT in college do you?”
The first time someone said that to me, I didn’t say anything. Honestly I didn’t know what to say, and was somewhat embarrassed that my kid was the only kid carrying his bear, box, blanket, or whatever he deemed important at the time. Now? I would have just smiled and said “If he makes it to college he can do whatever he damn well pleases.” Because some days, Im not even sure hes going to make it through grade school.
With Christmas on our heels, everyone is talking about the biggest, greatest, next best gift that their kid wants. Kids are running around yelling absurd things that they want under the tree, and many parents are wondering if they will disappoint if they don’t deliver.
Josh? Has never once said he wanted something. Hes never once begged to buy something, and never shown much interest in gifts, presents or new toys. Infact he would probably be just fine to let the whole gift giving/getting thing go. In years past, I havent pushed it. There have been bigger fish to fry and when Christmas rolled around, there were bigger issues pressing besides getting the kid to beg for a toy. Its just not something that was big on my list of accomplishments for him.
This morning as I got things ready to go for the day, I couldn’t help but wonder. What is his future going to look like? Its honestly the first time I have ever wondered or worried about one of their futures, because honestly getting through this day, this problem, this year has been a big enough problem to tackle. But the thought ran across my mind. It was only a brief moment of wondering, but something that followed me through the entire morning.
When I dropped him off at school I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like when he was in high school. Would I still be dropping him off? Would he ever reach the point of embarrassment that he is the only kid being dropped off at school by someone? Would he ever be asked questions that he didn’t know how to answer? Both the kids have been asked, at some point, in some variation about why they live with me, and they have both struggled with how to answer. Would he be in the same position some day? Has he already been? Does he have thoughts and wonders and dreams? What DOES he want for Christmas anyways?
I shouldn’t really worry about these things, because if I took the time to look back over the past years, I will be able to make remarkable notes on how far he has come since that first day he came here. But I do still worry. I worry that Im not giving him enough, that Im not encouraging him enough, that I don’t spend enough time trying to give him things that he can take into the world instead of just doing it myself…
There was a time, not too long ago, that I seriously worried he would be sporting diapers to high school and he really would not care. I worried that the bear would follow him all the way to college, and he would never make any friends. Before that I worried that I would always be dragging him (literally) to school and wondered just HOW I was going to drag a much bigger Josh. I had solutions, ideas, and fool proof plans that eventually fell through – because he eventually potty trained, his bear stays at home most days, and it’s the rare day that I have to drag him to school.
Because those problems have mostly sorted themselves out, I now find myself worrying about OTHER problems. I don’t know what his future will be like. I don’t know if he will ever make it to college. I don’t know if he will ever become a lawyer, a judge, a brain surgeon. He might be just as happy being a ride along in a dump truck. And if he is happy with that, then I should be too.
One of the many things that he has taught me is that happiness comes in many shapes and sizes. Happiness to one, is not happiness to another. Just because one likes something, doesn’t mean another will. In today’s age, its all about fairness, equality, equal rights. And while Im not against any of these things – I think that sometimes it gets pushed a bit too far. Instead of simply accepting kids how they are, guiding them down their own paths, and offering a strong hand to keep them from going too far – we try and force them into the molds and ideas that we would have for them.
Because if it makes ME happy then surely it will make him happy, when really, it should be the other way around.
No, Josh might not give a damn about any present under the tree. He might not scribble out giant lists of magical wants. He might not even ever demand a toy in the store. But that’s ok. Instead of forcing him into the mold of every other kid out there, I will try and encourage him and his dreams. Instead of window shopping, we might just go check out the construction project and lets face it, its one less store I will have to go in, one less crowd I will have to brave, and one less thing I will have to worry about.