It seemed that he was never so uncooperative as when my attempts to control him peaked toward their zenith. When I took him to the grocery store and tried ineffectually to display to the world my maternal competence, he would throw a fit. A very dignity defying fit. The kind of fit that makes the corresponding mother think to herself: I will never judge another mother of a tantruming child in a grocery store again. The sentiment is a healthy one. In my case, it's a long-overdue one. The truth is that I've struggled with some smug parenting self-righteousness over the years. I'm ashamed to admit that I'm kind of a my-way-or-the-highway kind of girl at times; being Oliver's mother is therefore so healthy for my sometimes far-too-big-for-its-britches dignity. Me and my burgeoning pride have been benefited by being in countless public situations featuring Oliver refusing to respond to the crossing guard's kind greeting because he doesn't feel like it, or dismissively telling his coach, while I look on from the sidelines: You don't need to tell me that, you know. I already knew that. I've come to realize that I am not my children; they are fully themselves. I cannot take the credit (much as I'd like to) when they soar through their special challenge classes or when they fearlessly champion the kid on the school field who is being bullied and I do not take the blame when despite my best and continued efforts, they feel like being rude to another child inviting them to a play date. I just remind myself to keep on keeping on. And to do as I preach endlessly to them, to be the best Me I can be.
But Oliver is a boy of special giftedness, too. Despite the fact that he's only recently turned six, he uses phrases like, "not necessarily" and "I find that frustrating." The incongruity between his underwhelming physical size and the largeness of the words coming (incessantly) out of his mouth brings our family great amusement. He thinks very highly of himself and doesn't let anyone around him forget for even a millisecond that he is worthy of respect. And respect him they do. You can't help but concede that he's a Very Important Person. He's also very intelligent and very funny. His Lego and Kinex creations stun you sometimes. He has more energy than the average newborn star. Parenting him - depending on his mindset - either makes me feel very young or very old. He has high standards for himself and for everyone around him. He is painstakingly honest. He has the loudest, most infectious laugh you ever heard. He is an amazing reader and Mathie. He asks me questions all day long and frequently I don't know the answer to them. He goes with me wherever I go, and the day that finds all that changed, will feel like an empty one to me. His dominance, his intrinsic sense of right and wrong, his passion for creating things, his quickness to hold adults to high account, his precociousness, his life-spilling-over-ness - they stretch me. These qualities of his make me more wise, less quick to battle for dominance. He's helped me to pick my battles and to see that I'm not the only one who sees the Way clearly. He's my son and I'm so proud of him. What a person.