i was planting sunflowers in the garden with wingman the other day.
he had grown the sunflowers himself, started each one from a seed. he scooped some soil into a cup, carefully put in each seed, and then gently patted some soil over the top. watered the soil and moved on to the next cup. his face set in full intent the whole time. to look upon the face of a 9 year old boy in full concentration is to experience the divine.
he kept the cups on the front porch, and every day he went out and watered them. and every day he checked on them. he wondered about them and talked about them, and on the day the sprouts started to peek through soil he jumped around in excitement.
but out of 15 cups of seeds there was one that wasn't peeking through.
give it a day or two i said, some seeds are late bloomers. he checked the cup the next day, nothing. then the next, nothing. by the third day i walked out and saw the 15th seed had sprouted.
'wingman, your seed sprouted!'
'yeah, i dug all the soil off the top and there it was.'
'well, that's one way to do it.'
so as we were planting the now much bigger sprouts in the garden i was thinking of how pleased wingman was with his efforts. and thinking about everything that can happen between the time the sunflowers reach their 5 feet and now, at five inches and being transplanted from the small and cozy to the vastness of the garden. what the passing of time can bring. weather, squirrels, other things, elements beyond the control of any of us. things that might prevent wingman being able to see his sunflowers grow to their full potential.
but a gardener doesn't think about those things, wingman wasn't thinking about those things. and i didn't bring them up. planting seeds is planting hope. that's good enough.
so i was thinking about this yesterday when the duke came home from a four day camp out with five other boys.
this isn't my story to tell so i will just give the quick and dirty; the duke was harassed by a few of the boys. the whole time. with slurs, and worse, that i won't type here.
now, as a mama i sit and fume. why didn't he call? why are those boys such assholes? how could he stand it? as a mama i want to send nasty e-mails and yell at someone on the phone. compassion takes a back seat when fury rears its needy head.
i talked to the duke about it. asked him how he felt. asked him how he handled it. and he did what he could and he understands how asshole bullies work and why they target the people they do. he promptly 'unfriended' the offensive boys on facebook and said good riddance. the 21st century equivalent of whatever it was we used to do as kids. it made him feel better. moving on.
so he was upset and said so, but he survived. and said he thought about calling me but stuck it out and tried to make the best of it. which makes me sad, but it was his situation to decide about. not mine. and from what i understand he gave it back in the only way he knew how. by explaining the origins of the slurs those boys were using and why they shouldn't use such offensive language. oh and i'm sure that went over 'well.' but, good for him. he tried.
beyond that, he didn't give me too many more examples, and i wanted to ask, but didn't. i am entering the period of parenting when i cannot control and manipulate every situation and environment. those days were over so long ago, deep down i know that, it's only now that i'm fully realizing it. there won't be any nasty e-mails or angry phone calls.
he did say at one point the mouthier boys were doing something dumb with the fire and a sock. and as he sat back watching them he said,
"well, there's darwinism at work for you."
and yes, he paid for it. but he said it. and i bet that it felt good to do so. small victories.
i assumed when i sent him off on the camping trip he'd have a good time. that there'd be sun and lots of soda he rarely gets to drink and an all around good time. like planting a seed i didn't think about all the things that could go wrong, i cast him out in hope.
and things did go wrong. and he didn't have much fun, if any. but he withstood the elements and took the risk and stuck it out.
i don't know if that counts for much when you're fresh from being harassed and bullied. but it's got to count for something. there is a lesson in there. and he's learning it. and i'm learning it.
it's hard to be a parent. to shepherd and nurture these children, like little cups of soil and seeds on the porch, only to cast them out to harsher elements.
we hope we've given them all they need.
time will tell.
i suppose it already has.