The other night, I was driving my son and I home. It was late and we were discussing bedtime. He started crying about not going to bed. His actions were only an attempt to get out of it. “When I was little, I never cried to get what I wanted. If my parents said no, then no means no”, I said. He straightened up and replied with, “So, when I get older and have kids, do I have to tell them that I was a bad kid and I cried to get what I want?”. I couldn’t tell if he was questioning me on how I relate things to him or if he was genuinely concerned about his actions currently effecting his future. Either way, it’s obvious that he has a close eye on how I’m parenting him, whether for my benefit or for his is the question.
I asked him, “Do you think about things like that all of the time? Do you think about that everything you do now, you’ll have to tell your kids in the future?”. He replied, “Yeah! Like being a bad kid, playing video games and stuff”. Well, of course, I immediately reassured him that he wasn’t a bad kid and that he’s actually quite incredible. He asked me why his daddy wasn’t around much. I told him that I didn’t really know, but I would always be there for him. He asked me, “Doesn’t daddy help you parent though?”. I said, “No, he doesn’t. It’s hard, but I have to do it, because I refuse to give up on you”. He began to cry, so I held him as I spoke encouraging words until he fell asleep.
I couldn’t sleep much that night. I kept pondering about what was going on in that beautiful eight year old mind. The actions of his parents are making him envision his future and what he would do differently. There is something so admiring and heart-rending about those thoughts. It was clear that his father’s actions and lack of actions were causing wide variety of questions of how life is supposed to be. Then, I’d imagine that he is trying to understand what my part is in parenting as well; how much of the parental duties are on me from all of this and what parts I am also failing him in.
Over the past couple years, I thought he would of made a great big brother. He has often asked for another sibling, however I have not been able to fulfill that life for him. Unfortunately for him, I believe he will always be a single child. Although, I was correct that he would of been a great big brother. Whenever we walk through the door of daycare in the mornings, so many children half of his age run up to him and yell his name in excitement. He just does his little grin back at them.
It wasn’t until I saw him with our neighbor’s two year old little boy that I was amazed by his natural abilities. He gently took that child’s hand, slowly and carefully walked him over to our utility room. He was trying to show him our cat, so he bent down to get to his level and then pointed to our cat. “Do see the cat? Do you?”, He asked in a tiny voice for the boy. Then, after the boy smiled, my son started to run away, and then stopped. He looked back, and asked “Are you coming? Come on. Come follow me”, still in a small voice. The boy looked at my son, smiled wide and ran for him. I was stunned as I watched this. I felt like I was watching a parent with their young child. He was selflessly interacting with this little boy.
The other day, I fed our male pet Betafish that my son named Larry. Everyday that I feed him, I see the many tiny bubbles he makes in his tank. They gravitate to the surface of the water and wrap around the cleaning tube. Male Betafish make bubbles so that the female betafish can lay her eggs in them. I find this relevant to my son’s thinking. This fish has no female mate and no eggs to be laid in these bubbles, but he makes them anyway in preparation. My son is looking at himself and observing his idols to prepare for that one day that he’ll need for his children.
I tell my son at times that he would be a great father as he cares for me when I don’t feel good, he is gentle with children and he has such a huge heart. Minus any negativity, I want him to continue to be a Betafish. I do think it is too young for him to think this way, but maybe he needs this to understand his own life right now. Maybe it is something that he’ll hold onto in his teen years, adult life and for that one day when I get to meet these wonderfully raised grandchildren. I want him to keep swimming in life, to keep his head up and continue progressing into an amazing person that will do wonderful things with his life.