"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Before He Starts Kindergarten

Three years ago, I thought nothing would be more difficult, more heart-wrenching, more anxiety-inducing than sending my oldest son to kindergarten.

Three years ago, I didn't know that I'd be sending my second son to kindergarten in a skirt.

But here we are...one week out from the start of school and the butterflies have taken over my stomach.

I know, I know: He'll be fine.

I know he'll be fine because he's right where he needs to be. I know he'll be fine because he will always, always, have a safe place to land in our family and in our home. I know he'll be fine because he is who he is: confident, charming, bright, and full of life and excitement. To know Max is to love Max, and I'm not just saying that because I'm the one who loves him most of all. (Well, okay, Sam and I share the title.)

I also know, though, that I'm about to send my happy, little rainbow fish off to a great, big pond and I just have to trust that we have prepared him well enough for what he may face in these uncharted waters ahead. I don't want his confidence to falter. I don't want his sparkle to fade.

But, it occurs to me that it's not fair that I should have to prepare HIM for the world ahead. He's done nothing wrong in choosing to wear skirts, magenta leopard-print shoes, and sparkly fingernail polish. He's just living his life and it's a beautiful one.

So this message is not for him. This message is for the Others: the people he will meet who do not Get It, the people he will meet who judge, the people who hurt.

Here we go:

Just don't be a jerk.

Parents, I don't care how you feel about the fact that my boy wears a skirt...but I will care if you share your judgements and discriminations with your kids. Your kids aren't judging him. Kids are not born to point and laugh and make fun of other kids. Kids, generally speaking, are open. They learn that ugly, judgy behavior from you (and from older, more jaded kids).  So just don't teach them to be jerks. And if you catch them being jerks, address their behavior. Swiftly.

Your kids may, however, be curious. And that's okay. Max has fielded a lot of questions from other kids about his wardrobe. It typically goes something like this:

Other Kid: Are you a boy or a girl?
Max: A boy.
Other Kid: ...but you're wearing a skirt.
Max: Oh, yeah. I like to wear skirts.
Other Kid: Oh. Okay.

If your kids ask why that boy in their class is wearing a skirt, just say, "Everyone gets to choose which clothes they feel most comfortable in, and he feels comfortable in skirts." If that's too much for you, then you can simply say, "I don't know, but it shouldn't matter to you what other people are wearing. Who'd you play with at recess today?"

Keep your ears open and if you hear a negative word about a child, any child, teach your children that everyone is Different: different colors, different sizes, different strengths, different struggles, different beliefs, different families, different clothes.

Different, because The Same is boring.

It really is that simple.

***

And then, this is a letter to the people who do get it, who don't judge, and who love him just the way he is...

Thank you. Thank you for loving him. Thank you for asking me when you have questions or when you don't know how to answer the questions of your children. Thank you for accepting him and for protecting him and for welcoming him into your families and your hearts and your homes. Thank you...but also, you're welcome.

He's pretty great, isn't he?

Lesson Learned:

One week. Here we go. We can do this. Are you with us?

Monday, August 10, 2015

the story of my ink

I got my first tattoo when I was 19.

It's a moon and stars; a quarter-sized doodle I'd been drawing in the margins of my notebooks for years. It's on my right foot, just below my pinky toe. It was my Teenage-Rebellion Tattoo...or it would have been if my parents were opposed to self-expression. They're not. They loved it.

I went with my best friend. He got his first tattoo that day, too. It was a celtic cross in honor of his late mother. I think I thought that, having gotten inked together, we'd be friends forever.

He and I parted ways shortly after graduation and I haven't spoken to him in years.

Sometimes, good things come to an end...and it's okay.

***

I got my second tattoo when I was 25.

It's the Tibetan Buddhist symbol for eternity, a woven knot, on the far left side of my lower back.

It was my Marriage Tattoo: I went with my husband. We'd been married for less than a year. He got a tattoo that day, too. It's a symbol from the I Ching meaning stability and duration. I knew that we'd be together forever...even before we got inked together.

He and I...and our relationship...have changed a lot in the decade that followed that trip to the tattoo parlor. Time and life and kids will do that. But I still know that we'll be together forever.

Sometimes things change...while, somehow, staying the same.

***

I got my third tattoo yesterday. I am 35.

I went with my mom, which was fitting because this is my Motherhood Tattoo. My mom got an infinity symbol on her left wrist. It's her motherhood tattoo, too, because if you flip an infinity on it's side, it's an eight: she has eight kids (and has earned infinity Mommy Merit Badges in the process of raising all of us).

Mine is inside my right bicep...


When my babies were babies, I spent hours rocking, swaying, dancing, nursing, and praying them to sleep. They were, and kind of still are, terrible sleepers. As I rocked, swayed, danced, nursed, prayed, (and sometimes cried), I sang. 

In the middle of the night, deprived of sleep, and with my nerves frayed to their bitter ends, it was all I could do to summon, from the recesses of my subconscious, the words to three songs, which I whispered into the ears of my three babies over and over and over...and over...again. Three songs, but oh, they're the good ones. My favorites.

My babies may no longer be babies, and they may no longer need me to rock, sway, dance, and sing them to sleep. Hearing those songs, though, will always bring me right back to those dark, quiet, endless nights when my babies needed me, and only me. 

Now, every time I look down at the arm that cradled those sweet, stubborn, wide-awake babes, those songs will play in my heart.

Let It Be
Blackbird
Three Little Birds 

***
Lesson Learned:

Sometimes, forever is a good thing. Sometimes...forever is perfect.

Oh...and, for the record...due to a scheduling snafu, I'm now That Mom that brings her kids to a tattoo parlor. 


Whoops.