Tonight the kids were jumping on a bed we had switched out for Dailah. It was a full Queen size but we had laid it on it’s side so it was rather high. The kids were throwing pillows on top and just running full speed and bouncing off. At one point they were climbing to the top and sliding down so Zach and I, foreseeing a medical issue, told them to stop. I went down to start dinner and a second later I heard “the scream”. We moms know that scream because we feel it in the deepest recesses of our bodies. It was Dailah and she had fallen off the top of it. Thankfully it wasn’t bad, she bit her lip pretty badly but that was about it.
Clearly she had gotten up there with a little help from her brothers (who were on top of the bed at the time of the accident). So we sent them all to their rooms so we could talk to them separately about the act of listening. We talked to Trysten. He was frustrated with himself about not listening and felt bad about not being a good example to his little brother and sister. Dailah was rather oblivious, though she could recite why she was in trouble.
Then there was Tariku. To the unknowing eye Tariku could be labeled “hard on himself”, but because we know how deeply he feels his abandonment (orphans feel abandonment whether they were in fact abandoned or brought into orphanages by a family member). Every time we ask Tariku why he’s in trouble (whether it be a small mistake or a big one) he says, “Because I’m a bad boy.” Without fail, that is his answer.
And they aren’t words, he feels that. (Because why else would he be abandoned, right?) After we’ve explained his small indiscretion I always look him in the eye, making him look me in the eye, and say, “I love you more than anything. You could never do anything that would change that. You cannot do anything bad enough for me to stop loving you. Do you know that?” And with those beautiful eyes, he shakes his head, “no”.
We ask him if Trysten is a bad boy? “No”. Is Dailah a bad girl? “No”. Even though they were in time out more than he was today. 10 minutes or so later he is coming out of his reverie and smiling a bit. It’s getting quicker, the time it takes him to realize just because we’re upset doesn’t mean we hate him. It doesn’t mean we don’t love him. It’s getting quicker but it’s still there.
This is the hardest part of parenting for me right now. Taking the time to sit down and walk him through that. Ignoring everything else, holding his hand and looking him in the eye and talking him off the ledge.
Almost 2 years later and the scar is still on the surface. Any time we get upset it’s like we scratch it open leaving this gaping, bleeding wound.
Because I’m human and flawed and weak, I’m sometimes so frustrated with him (about whatever he’s done) that it takes everything in me not to put him in time out and not explain any of that. Because it’s different, you know, with Trysten and Dailah I can do that. Put them in time out, after an allotted amount of time I ask them to get out, what they did wrong and then they go about their business. Knowing that they are inherently good and loved and that one bad decision doesn’t make them bad.
But Tariku doesn’t and because I love him so much he deserves my A game every day. Even when I’m tired, grumpy or sick, he needs to hear all of that more than anyone else.
So that the scar fades every day, every month and every year. So that he can one day know without thinking, that he’s good. That he’s amazing and that he deserves the love that so many people try to give him. There’s a chance (some say a very good chance) that the scar will always be there. That he’ll feel this the rest of his life.
But I don’t ever want that to come true because of something I did. Because I didn’t tell him enough or do something the best way I know how. I know this scar is so deep he might need more help than I can give one day and that’ll be fine. But he’ll never go to sleep thinking he’s unloved. His cheeks will never hit the pillow unkissed and for as many times as he’ll see me upset with him through his life, I vow to make sure he sees me smiling, the picture of a mother’s pride, a helluva lot more.
Because he is loved. He’s always been loved, I know that and one day he will too.