Boris: ‘Mom, do you know what I said to Callie (the babysitter)?’
Me: ‘I have no clue.’
Boris: ‘I was eating chicken when I suddenly said: ‘Oh no, I totally forgot that I’m vegetarian!’
Callie freaked out and said: ‘Really?!’ and I said: ‘No, just kidding.”
Boris is nine and he’s growing into the kid I would like to hang out with. Should Joost and I get credit for that? I don’t know. We’re doing our best, but both nature and nurture play a huge role in the process of growing up. Which role do parents have in the ‘raising children’ adventure? I guess it’s risk management. If you take a closer look, it’s about guiding them and about stepping in when things get difficult. You’re like the pilot on a plane. You push the right buttons and use your knowledge when necessary, or when things get difficult.
A difficult thing is coming up in Boris’ life as his best friend is moving. With this move he enters another school district and thus has to attend another school. Those boundaries are very strict because, well, rules are rules (welcome to America!) In my head different options popped up:
• What if I would beg the school to allow the friend to stay?
• What if Boris would switch to a non-zoned private school?
• What if we would move houses?
It was all non-realistic. I knew that and after a while I could think of more logical options.
Boris and I talked about it and discussed who he would like to be in class with next year. He named a few boys and I asked the school if he could be in the same class as these boys. In the meantime I started wondering how I could ease the process. Or maybe I should let go of being a control freak and just go with the flow, have a little faith. He might be fine and bounce back.
I had to think of a conversation we had in the car the other day when we were driving home from Martial Arts.
Boris said: ‘There was this boy that called me butt face.’
Me: ‘Why did he do that?’
Boris: ‘I don’t know. He said: ‘You’re doing it wrong, butt face!’ So I guess that was the reason.’
Me: ‘What did you do?’
Boris: ‘I ignored it. Calling names is never the solution to a problem. Plus we learn at Martial Arts that you have to be respectful to each other at all times.’
Me: ‘Wow, that’s very wise.’ (They actually listen and learn something when they practice sports – take note moms!)
Boris: ‘Yeah, I always try to avoid sparring with him anyway. But uhm, mom, I did do the move again with him, but then really hard.’
He looks at me with a grin.
(We high fived. I actually shouldn’t write that down but I will because it’s the truth and honestly? I would have handled it the same way.)
This has – at first glance – nothing to do with making new friends, but it’s an indication that he will find his way. Maybe stepping in as a parent when things get difficult is the ongoing process of giving them confidence and letting them go at the same time. Assuring them that they will make it, that they will fall and get up again. That they won’t lose friends, but that they will stay in contact with them and that they will make new ones too.
I certainly hope so.