"What would you tell a friend?" I asked.
"What?" she replied.
"A friend. If this were me or a good friend, what would be your advice?"
And when I said that I knew I'd struck a cord. She pressed her lips together and furrowed her brow. I could tell those wheels were turning. A few days later I received a text from her telling me what she'd decided to do. And she told me that she advised herself as she would a friend. Which really, really helped.
That got me thinking. Isn't it funny how liberal we are with our good advice and kind words to our friends yet stingy with them when it comes to ourselves? Like, so many times I find myself sitting with a girlfriend sipping wine and hashing through some sort of issue. Sometimes I'm the hasher and other times I'm the hashee. Either way, someone at some point speaks a good word that convicts the other. And after that we pour one more glass of wine and clink glasses in honor of having great and wise friends in your corner.
So today I was sitting on the couch chatting with Harry. I was fretting as I often do about the kids and school and social interactions and anything else I could think of to fret about. So I'd stored up all of my monkeys to put onto the BHE's back so that I wouldn't have to worry alone.
"I need you to calm down, babe." That's what my man said to me matter-of-factly. "Everything can't always be so heavy. We have great kids."
"We do. But this note from school said this. And I don't want anyone misunderstanding my son. We are raising black men."
"You don't think I know that we're raising black men? I do. But worrying only makes you crazy."
I sighed. "I do feel crazy sometimes."
"Babe. You are right about a lot of this stuff. But some of the stuff you get all worked up over are little day-to-day things. With some stuff you have to let kids just work that shit out. You can't go overanalyzing every single thing your kids say every single day. Some shit you just have to let them live through and figure out."
And yes he uses the expletives. What can I say? He's an ex-military dude.
Anyways. My point is that I spend a crap-ton of time hoping and praying that I'm getting parenting right. I constantly pray that my kids will remember and embrace every good thing I've done and have amnesia for the not-so-good things. I ask God to show me what to do and ask for forgiveness when I say and do things that I don't think are so good.
So today, despite my admonishment from the BHE, I found myself in a fretful do-loop again. This time it was in response to yet another shenanigan of some sort that one of my sons was involved in while at school. And. I will say that in no way did anyone make a huge deal out of it but me being me, I did. I started applying it to my son's future as an adult and started already preparing to lecture him about the perils of poor choices. Then I tossed the monkey over to Harry (again) who listened but then reminded me (again) that everything that happens is not some wretched foreshadowing of a tainted future.
Okay, okay--those are my words. But you get the picture.
Anywho. There was a point in all of this. My point is that I know for sure that I often give my friends good and thoughtful advice. And I even thought about me suggesting to my friend that she provide counsel to HERSELF as she would a friend and had to say, "Hmmmm. That's a damn good suggestion."
Yeah, man. So tonight I decided that I'd take my own advice. I'd be a friend to me and talk to me like a girlfriend. And see, the good thing about girlfriends is that they know all the background so they can pull it out and apply it where necessary. As opposed to, like, Dr. Phil or somebody.
Not that I have a problem with Dr. Phil. I'm just saying, that's all.
So yeah. Today I sat down with me and talked me off of the ledge. As only a sisterfriend can. And you know what? I think I'm going to do this more often. 'Cause me? I'm a damn good sisterfriend.
Yeah, I am.
Me talking to Me today:
I'm kind of freaking out. I know I shouldn't be but I am.
Isaiah was horsing around in school today. And I need him not to be doing that. I mean. . . .he's at a new school and I just. . . yeah. I don't want anyone misunderstanding him, you know?
What do you mean by that?
I mean. . . like. . . misunderstand him and think he's a not a good kid. He's such a good kid, you know? And then I don't want him not realizing that there is a time to work and a time to play. He's going to have to understand that someday or it's going to be hard for him as a man.
He's eight, Kimberly. Eight.
So what? You're suggesting I just blow it off? I mean, that's not the answer either.
No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that there should be a consequence for his actions. But him horsing around today doesn't mean you need to brand him with a scarlet letter. Damn.
But these things add up. Some of the stuff both of those boys do I find myself saying, "Dude. Seriously?" And I just really don't want my boys growing up making a bunch of dumb ass choices because they don't know when to be serious.
What's that supposed to mean?
It means relax. You love them. Harry loves them. And they have a ridiculously huge village helping you and Harry out. They will be fine. Even people who make dumb ass choices in elementary school grow up to be upstanding adults.
Yeah but what could be more dumb ass than swallowing a tack? *(explanation below, just keep reading)
Oh see. Now you're playing dirty.
But you have to admit--that was exponentially dumb-asser than what you're worried about today, wasn't it? Like. . . what were you thinking?
I was. . . .
You were. . . .horsing around. In elementary school. Precisely. Uhhh. . . DOCTOR Manning. See? You turned out okay.
I forgot about the tack-swallowing incident. That was pretty dumb.
Uhhh. . .yeah. Imagine how psyched your mom was to get THAT call from school. "Hey! Your dumb ass daughter just swallowed a thumb tack!"
I know, right?
Right. And let's not forget the day you cut the girl's hair on the school bus in sixth grade. How dumb ass was that?
Awww man. That was so, so dumb. And I was just trying to be funny, too. That girl had a crap-ton of hair. I only pretend snipped a teeny weeny bit of it as a joke but accidentally really cut it. But it was funny, though.
Yeah. And I'm sure your mom was like "Ha ha, hell" when she had to come up to Frank D. Parent School to talk to the damn principal about it, too.
Yikes is right. You owe your mama an apology for being such a dumb ass.
My point is that you turned out okay. Some things are going to be dumb ass. They just are. It has to be that way. You remember. There were consequences for all of those things but you are living proof that with love you can still turn out okay.
Yeah. I guess you're right.
They're awesome kids.
You're an awesome and imperfect mom.
But nobody loves them like you and Harry. Nobody.
Just keep on loving them. And loving Harry. And especially loving yourself. It will be okay.
Yeah, dumb ass. You swallowed a tack, remember? And cut somebody's hair to be funny, remember?
Hey. And Deanna dyed her hair in the water fountain with Kool-Aid. How dumb ass was THAT?
Super dumb ass. See? You dumb asses turned out fine.
We did didn't we?
Okay. I'm chillaxing.
You're soooo lame with your lame slang.
So lame, I know.
But I love you, girl.
I love you, more.
Then act like it sometimes.
|Us randomly dressed up in cub scout gear one day with our cousins.|
*Background information for clarity
Dumb ass thing number 1:
In second grade, I was working on a bulletin board with my class. Instead of doing what I was supposed to be doing on the project that morning, I decided I'd make people laugh by putting a thumbtack in between my teeth. Why, you ask? Well CLEARLY a thumbtack held just so between the teeth bears an uncanny resemblance to a silver tooth. OBVI. Yeah. So I walked around with a dead pan face and just when they least expected it. . . TING! I'd unleash my grill and bring down the house. Or in this case, the table.
Turns out that laughing out loud with your head back whilst holding a thumbtack in your mouth is not the best idea.
"Hey! I can't wait to rush up to my child's school to take her to an emergency department in case she perforates her bowel from swallowing a sharp metal object!"
Yeah. Said no mom EVER.
That was a dumb ass thing to do. (Ask my mom how she confirmed that the thumbtack was out of my system and then let her tell you how AWESOME an experience that was. Or not.)
|Easter Sunday in our clothes sewn by our mama.|
Dumb ass thing number 2:
Sixth grade, packed bus. This girl who was named after a season--her name was like Autumn or Winter or Summer or something--had the world's STANKEST attitude and always sat on the second row near the driver. She also had the world's thickest straightest hair. On this day I thought HOW FUNNY would it be if I sat on the third row behind her and used my school scissors to PRETEND CUT like two or three strands? I said PRETEND CUT. Well. How was I to know that PRETEND CUTTING can sometimes accidentally become REAL CUTTING if you hit a bump on the highway?
"Hey! I can't wait to meet with the principal and some freckle-faced kid's mama who is demanding to let her child cut MY child's hair to teach her a lesson for the DUMB ASS thing she did on a school bus the day before!!!"
Yeah. Said no mom EVER and especially not mine.
I will spare you Deanna and the Kool Aid hair dying incident. Yes, I will. Just know that it was a dumb ass thing to do.
Okay. So my point? Um. I sort of forgot it. But yeah. Just be a friend to yourself. Talk to you as you would a good friend. And remind yourself of all of the DUMB ASS things you've done in your life so that you'll feel reassured that your children will turn out just fine. And if you need a smile just imagine this:
That's all I got.
P.S. JoLai didn't do a single dumb ass thing. But we made up for her lack of dumb ass choices.