Saturday, January 21, 2012
The prize of things...
I learnt that as a mother, try as I might to detach myself from the display of overt emotions, I still feel them inside, which is perhaps why I struggle not to have to display it. That as a mother, I always wish for my sons to shine, and that I take a very personal pride in it. Even if I tend to play it down for the sake of company, or for the sake of myself.
There was an episode today, a wonderful, humbling, feeling, teaching, quieting episode where Winkie had the opportunity to take part in a competition. Where he did very well and made me very proud, of his poise and his quiet and sensible strength, but where he did not win a prize at the end. Its funny how the 1and 2 , become such important numbers we need the ownership of to have a feeling of validation in this world. That we....and our children...have worth and merit that can be proved to the rest of the world.
Its disquieting how much I seemed to have invested in that moment, which spelled the attaching of his name to either of those 2 numbers. How I held my breath, without even seeming to have held it. How much I wanted it for him, even when I convinced myself not to.
How words really come a poor second to that feeling of disappointment that a young boy feels in his heart, that acute pain when the prize slips away. Yes, he knows he did well. Yes, he is happy for his friend who made it 1st. Yes, he knows how proud his mom is of him. But he did not get the cup did he? And that hurts. Simple. It hurts.
But more than the feeling of that actual hurt, it hurts me more to know that I am still so easily culpable to this hurt. Not because I pride myself in having come such a long way in terms of personal development, but because swings of emotion are so scary sometimes. I am very afraid of feeling anything to a depth or intensity. It seems so much more safer to feel with a dull and fuzzy sense, than to have that emotion tweaked and amplified to this sharp, piercing thing, that just stares you straight in the face, leaving you no place to hide from it. This just goes to show the false sense of bravado I carry around me most of the time, just so I can feel that I have a firm foothold in my own life. So I must be honest and come clean so I can come free.
I am sad he didn't win the 1st prize. Or the 2nd. He did so darn well. But oh, the children who did, were great too. And they had that little extra something that earned them that spot. I am so appreciative of that, as much as I am disappointed that we could not have that extra something too. I am afraid to identify so deeply with my son's feelings. But it happens so easily, so naturally, that in the process I am afraid to pass on too many of my own to him. I want his world to be simple. His thoughts even more so. I am afraid of not feeling true happiness for the other children who won. None of that mattered if my son didn't. I am disappointed in myself that I still haven't managed to shrug it off, that I am still holding on to it.
But all is not bleak. There are things for which I am glad too. I am glad, we did it. Just so we could be exposed to this kind of thing. Especially for Winkie. Without even knowing for sure, I know that this is one incident in his life will have made its mark on him....transformed some tiny, significant part of him. His tears, one full hour after everything, and after we came home is evidence of that. He held himself strong until then. I believe he expected his name to be called out, and was surprised when it wasn't, because he had felt very happy with the way he had done. He had the generosity and courage to wish his friend in more than a few words...you did a very good job. Congratulations!....he managed to say. He was quiet and contained all the way back home in the car, as we discussed why the prizes went to the other children and not him. But the minute we got home, the emotion was too much to hold in his little heart, and it spilled over. Big, wracking sobs, as I squeezed him tight. And then, right there, was the pure simple joy, that my son was having an acute experience with life, right in front of my very eyes. What a privilege it was to witness it. This is the stuff that life is made up of, isn't it. These piercing moments of direct experience that shake you up from your otherwise slumber. And Winkie whose emotions are usually hard to read, was expressing and emoting so beautifully, so directly....I was happy, even as I was sad.
After the tears were wiped, and the coolness washed over, we all took a walk, in the snow to the Dunkin's on the opposite side of the road. And sipped hot coffee, and bit into warm hash browns, and enjoyed some moments as a family. He has been all smiles since then, the moment having passed. And as I helped him brush his teeth, I came clean with him too....I am sad Winkie, that you did not win. And right then, again, was the acute delight of seeing a role reversed...of emotions swapped. I pouted sadly, while he smiled wisely, nodded sagely and said....yeah...I know. And that's when it just became very very....very very...clear. And I told him.
That as his mother, I would be telling him many many things all the time. Lots of advice and words and directives. And he may forget as many of them as I try to pass on. But if he could just remember one thing.... one single, simple thing, please. That whatever you do, do it in such a way that you can be happy with yourself. Just like how he felt today. How happy he was saying it because he knew he had given it his best. That precious feeling was the prize of it all . The one that nobody can award, and nobody can take. The one which lies in your safe keeping...
Yes.....I will.....he said.