My little Poka Bear handed this to me tonight. He’s not really so little anymore, 10 in just a few days. I know he’s partially trying to make sure he gets that tablet he really wants. Pretty clever to ask for only one thing.
I also find myself paralyzed with guilt. I don’t stick up for this boy enough. Oh, I’ve spent the better part of 11 years now fighting for his life. He’s a small kid, tiny for his age. And smart, much, much too smart. And worst of all he has a big soft heart. So he covers it with an attitude. He’s had too much taunting for being who he is. He’s the baby no one but me wanted, family and friends strongly hinted I should have an abortion and leave town. A few even offered me the money.
He’s also the boy who refuses to throw plastic knives back at the other boys at church. His words, when I asked him, “Martin Luther King didn’t tell protesters to throw rocks back.” Yeah, that’s my kid. The 9 year old who tries to live non-violence.
Oh, he’s a normal human boy who makes mistakes and messes and bad grades. He leaves the toilet seat up and gets cranky when I turn the video games off. He’s shy to the point of rude sometimes. He’s developed a touch of the tween attitude. I get frustrated. He’s been particularly grouchy the last two weeks after having surgery. And he and I have been cooped up alone most of those two weeks. It hasn’t brought out the best in either of us. I picked a regrettable fight with a friend. And Poka Bear’s been cranky and angry and hurting.
And then he reminds me what Christmas is really about. Reminds me It’s Not About Me. Reminds me under all that attitude he’s still the boy who steps forward to help his shy little sister when strangers frighten her. The child who cares about cats and smaller kids and understands the world from the eyes of someone else. The child who takes that empathy and uses it. I’m proud of that boy. Pleased with his thoughtfulness for kids who have no toys. Just one good one for him and give the rest to someone who doesn’t have any.
Why does this leave me guilty and squirming? First off people who don’t know him like to comment on his disrespect. And sometimes I agree rather than sticking up for him. He can be a goof but he doesn’t do it to be hurtful. Second, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all that is on my plate and haven’t been doing a very good job at staying aware of and in touch with myself. I’ve been cooped up with very little human interaction and have become bit by bit more Me Me Me. Fucking addict thinking, self centered and short sighted. I’m slowly making more new friends and developing more support from people who don’t drink and don’t use but it is a slow process. So as the weeks went by I became increasingly isolated. It’s funny how being self centered is completely opposite of self aware. Time to get back to working the steps for real again.
I am trying to let go the guilt, to remember it is also another of those lessons in seeing with God’s eyes. Kids are great at providing those. But just right now I squirm with the list of amends to make while I also have birthday shopping and Christmas planning. I’ve learned there are two types of guilt. One is thrust on me by someone else. This doesn’t happen as often as I used to think. The other means I’ve been crooked or unjust. There’s really only one solution, to figure out what I’ve done and apologize and do my best to make up for it. I’m starting to hate making amends. It’s hard. And some people aren’t at all forgiving. I know there is nothing I can do on that, I do my part but it still sucks to suck it up and say I’m sorry and get a load of shame in place of the guilt. Just as soon as I start to think I’m doing better at not fucking up I get well and truly humbled as to just how much I have left to learn.
So for tonight I am trying to find gratitude. Be grateful for this little boy with a big heart. Be grateful tomorrow is a new day. Be grateful I’m alive and free. Be grateful my kids have toys to share.