by Stacey Robbins, Author of You’re Not Crazy and You’re Not Alone
It’s weird being a parent:
You think you’re going to guide, lead and teach your child —
and while, yes, that’s true — they do so much more of that for us than we even realize.
The issues they face, draw out from within us, the wisdom we possess.
We both grow.
We both know.
It reminds me of when I was learning about the Bradley Method when I was pregnant for my oldest son 13 years ago: We watched a video on the benefits of nursing. I remember how remarkable it was to learn that when a child is sick, the child nurses and the message from the child’s body gets sent to the mother — and her breast milk LITERALLY CHANGES — and becomes filled with the antibodies needed to heal the baby.
Amazing science and such a tremendous gift.
That’s how it feels with these little people as they grow into big people:
They brush up against us with their issues, and our inner being rallies and finds the wisdom needed for the situation they’re in.
So, as my 12 year-old Caleb has been growing into size 13 shoes — he’s also been going through some stuff in the last few months that’s drawing on Rock and me to bring that inner wisdom to the surface, to help heal his heart.
The Dead Fly on the Windshield
Caleb was upset about some kids in his circle. They were doing some shitty things — and he was fixating on them. As my mother used to quote, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” But since I can’t go around making the world a softer place for Caleb, I have to help him see it in a way that is empowering to him.
One afternoon we were driving home together and he was telling me some of the details of how he had been affected by what was going on. When he paused from his story I tapped his knee, “Hey, Cay…”
I said, “Look at the dead fly on the windshield.” He looked, squinched his nose and said, “OhhhhhKayyyy….”
I said, “Those are the kids you don’t prefer and who irritate you. They made an impact on your life, but this, my son…” I paused and pointed to the fly, “…is not the view.”
I spread my hand out wide like I was Vanna White, “See the whole big window and the whole big view beyond it?”
“Well, if you keep your eyes on the dead fly, first of all: you’re going to run into something you don’t want to run into and second of all: you’re going to miss the view — and it’s really such a great view.” As if on cue, we rounded the curve to our neighborhood and the ocean was right in front of us.
I told him about the quote that I remembered from childhood: Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.
The goal is to live the life of your dreams.
So, keep your vision on where you want to go and what truly matters to you — not on who doesn’t value you.
It’s a reminder I need often in my own life: Keep your eyes on the bigger picture and not the little dead fly.
It’s not very poetic but it makes the point.
The Hurt that Keeps on Hurting
Recently, Caleb’s gone through some deep hurts by someone he has loved very much. He said to me, “I just want that person to see how hurt I am by them.” I knew that feeling, having been a sensitive soul, too while growing up — and hoping that, if the person just saw how hurt I was, then, they would come to me in a changed and healing way.
I said, “Caleb, here’s the deal: You can be hurt, that’s totally justified. But let me ask you this: When you’re hurting and you want someone to notice that — what do you have to be in order to have them notice you?”
He put his hand to his chin in his thinking pose, “Hmmm….” he paused, “Hurt?”
“Yes. Absolutely. In order to have someone see your hurt, you need to remain hurt. But it doesn’t just stop there. Sometimes we increase that hurt so, we get sick or injured and really undo ourselves all to prove how hurt we are.”
He looked into my eyes.
I said, “When someone is asleep about how valuable you are, you don’t want to use ‘proving how hurt you are’ as a means to wake them up. It only hurts you more.”
We were quiet before we got out the car. He had a lot to digest.
One day, maybe someday soon I will tell him:“Honey, the people who hurt you aren’t always part of your healing. The person who skins your knee on the black top sometimes keeps on running and isn’t the one who gets you the Band-aid. And sometimes the person who has hurt your heart, doesn’t come back to hold it until it heals.
They keep going.
It’s just life.
It’s not your job to prove your pain – it’s your job to feel your pain and heal your pain.
Your responsibility is to journey to healing and not wait for anyone else to wake up to you or come back for you. And it won’t serve you to stay in that injured place or injured posture. You will have to move on and move forward and heal as you go.”
Since I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the last time someone’s going to hurt my son, I will tell him those words, too.
(Do You Know) The Hot Dog Man
I love this one that came from my husband, because it’s totally his Far Side type of kitchy-humor and reaches my son in his Far Side sense of humor.
This one had to do with people who are mean.
Rock told Caleb recently: “Just treat people who are mean like they’re the Hot Dog Man:
That cranky guy in the corner at the ball game is the only one selling the hot dogs. You want a hot dog. You’re not going to change that person, so don’t try. That person was mean before you got there, so don’t take them personally and be hurt. And don’t avoid getting the hot dog that you really want. You just get the hot dog and go enjoy the game.”
I love that.
It’s just good wisdom regardless:
Don’t try to change them.
Don’t be hurt by them (they were that way before you got there.)
Don’t avoid getting what you want.
Enjoy the game of life.
Plus, it’s really catchy and sings perfectly to the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”
We’re sad to see our boy have to chew on some of the gristle of life — but the nursing days are gone and this is part of growing up. We’re really grateful to be with him in the process — and as he goes through these growing times that are pulling forth wisdom for all of us in our family, we’re reminded of what matters most:
Loving each other —
And then, loving each other some more.
Order my book: “You’re Not Crazy and You’re Not Alone” on Amazon.