Raising my Son, the Sensitive One
- June 06, 2017
My 9 year old son has been here before. Of that I am sure. I am also equally sure that he was gifted to me, as when he came along, so did my faith. Don’t get me wrong, I go to Church, but I’m no Bible basher. It’s just that my belief in God has never been so sure and so strong since he arrived.
I think I’ve always known that there’s been something different about him; something special. Right from when he was tiny, he’s just been so in tune with me. He can look at me sometimes, and I feel like he’s looking into my very soul, knowing instantly when I’m a little under par and dispensing his own kind of medicine to make me feel better. This ‘medicine’ can be anything from a cuddle (he’s so good at cuddles!), a kiss, or his hand stroking my face coupled with some simple but humbling words: “It’s OK, Mummy. You have me.” He was quite a late talker, but once he could string a sentence together one of his most common phrases was “are you happy, Mummy?” He would ask this several times a day, reminding me that happiness can be a choice, and also to chivvy me along when I wasn’t quite as happy as I could have been.
My boy has certainly chosen happiness. The teachers at his school always comment about how he’s always got a smile on his face. Even if we’ve had a bad morning when I’ve lost my shit with him, because he’s yet again left his reading diary at school, or he’s forgotten to do his homework AGAIN. He can be in tears 5 minutes before we leave the house because I’ve shouted at him, yet we rock up to the school gate, and in he skips like he hasn’t a care in the world!
The week he started school, news travelled around the playground grapevine that every boy in the reception class had been issued with a letter to their parents warning about some bad behaviour. Apparently there’d been a mass bundle which resulted in a child being hurt. So when we got home, I searched his book bag to find no letter. The next day I asked one of the other mums about it who told me “Oh no, apparently Jude wasn’t involved.” I quizzed him about it later and he told me “Ooh no Mummy, it looked dangerous”. So there he is. Mr Health and Safety. The boy who to this day won’t learn to ride a bike (he’s had 2 and wouldn’t even sit on the bloody things!); who won’t climb trees; who is quite happy being at home with me rather than venture out on his own to knock for his friends. Last summer I persuaded him to go along to a little park just down the road from our house with 2 of his friends that had called for him. I had never let him out by himself before because the road where we live, although very quiet, has no footpath. I told him I would walk down to check on them in 30 minutes. In less than 20, he was home, declaring “that was the worst experience of my life!” I so want him to get out there, to get dirty, to laugh and have fun with his friends, but he’s just as happy to be at home. Safe.
I sometimes worry that he doesn’t seem to get invited to many play dates. After all, he’s popular in school, and has lots of friends. When he sees his friends going to each other’s houses to play my heart hurts for him. But his doesn’t. He’s genuinely happy that his friends are all having fun, even when he’s not involved. That child just doesn’t have an envious bone in his body! But what he lacks in envy and jealousy, he certainly makes up for in emotion. I can’t remember the last time we watched a film together, where he didn’t cry. The end result is usually the 3 of us, passing the tissues down the sofa, Jude crying at the emotion of the film, and Mr Sunshine and me crying because he’s crying!
A few weeks ago, as we sat at breakfast together, I saw a puzzled and worried look on his face. Then I could see his chin start to wobble. “What’s the matter, Baby?” I asked as he blinked a big fat tear from his eye. I reached for the tissues and passed him one, and as he wiped the tears that were now flowing in torrents, and dabbed at the bubbles of snot that were escaping his nose, he said “Mummy, I’m so worried. I just don’t know where to start looking. I just don’t know how to go about it”. By now, a huge lump of empathy had risen to the back of my throat, and I struggled to stop myself from joining him in his tears. As I swallowed it down, I asked “What do you need to look for?” I was completely floored when he told me “A wife, Mummy. I don’t know how to find a wife.” Where the hell did that come from?
That, right there is why I worry about him. Out of my four children, he’s the one I worry about most of all. I had three girls from my first marriage, and they have all left home, living full and independent lives (there’s a ten year age gap between my youngest daughter and him) so he’s very much like an only child. Because he displays such copious amounts of sensitivity, empathy and love (oh, the love! He’ll tell you 100 times a day how much he loves you!), I constantly worry about his future; that he’ll get his heart trampled on, and when it is how he’ll cope, as although he knows that there are unkind people in the world, he can’t comprehend why they’re that way.
He has such lovely manners, always holding the door open saying “ladies first”; telling me I look beautiful when in fact I look like a sack of shit; saying “thank you, that was lovely” for the sandwich I’ve made him with bread that should have been chucked the day before yesterday; being grateful, and always showing that gratitude even when he gets ‘clothes’ for Christmas or his birthday! And talk about “out the mouths’ of babes”! Only the other day, he taught his 53 year old Dad a beautiful lesson while they were both out on the golf course. Mr Sunshine wasn’t happy with his impending shot, and just like that he almost reduced him to tears with his encouraging words: “It’s OK Dad, just do it. I have faith in you.”
Because he’s so happy with his own company and seems to be in his own little world so much, I sometimes struggle to pull him back into mine. For a child who has wisdom beyond his years, he’s just a contradiction in terms, as he sometimes can’t even manage the simplest of tasks. If I wasn’t on his case, he’d take an hour to get dressed in the mornings, and it can take him all day to tidy his room. His comprehension can also be poor at times, and he’ll say things like “last year, when I was a baby…” But he’s the funniest little dude, and you can’t help but get caught up in his infectious laugh, his cheeky smile and his completely beautiful, truly amazing soul. And one thing I am certain of: he’ll be the best kind of husband; the kind that we all hope our daughters (or sons!) will marry.
Mr Sunshine and I spoke the other night about the fact that we so lucked out with him, and we came to the conclusion that we can take a little credit! He comes from two parents that love each other immeasurably, who love him infinitely, and have parented him the best way they know how. He tells us regularly: “I’m so glad you’re my Mum and Dad”. And so are we, Sweetheart.
My name is Jane. Luckiest Mumma on the planet.