I’m sure I’m not the first genius to come up with this idea. I’ve read blogs and essays and articles recounting all of the foibles of being the new parents of mewling, puking infants.
Sure, that’s one kind of warning label needed on kids. Warning: loud noises and leaky bodily fluids should be expected.
How about this one…Warning: kids will break your heart.
My seventeen-year-old man child could bench press me. He’s strong and tough and one of the most intelligent (book-wise) people you could meet. Sunday afternoon he came into my bathroom while I was straightening my hair and wanted to talk to his momma. Within minutes his eyes got a little moist as he talked to me about the stress of carrying four AP classes, trying to maintain a 4.0 plus GPA and catch the current #1 in his class to earn the coveted spot of valedictorian. He needed to talk through whether or not he wants to play baseball in college, where he should go to school, and what in the world he’s going to do with the rest of his life.
And my heart broke a little bit. I had forgotten what it felt like to be on the precipice of the rest of your life feeling like if you didn’t grab just the right parachute that you were going to plummet and end up splattered on the rocks in pieces. It’s hard to tell the kid that it doesn’t matter which parachute you grab, as long as you’ve got one. He doesn’t understand that in 10 years nobody cares who the valedictorian of your little high school was. It just doesn’t matter.
And it broke my heart just a little bit to have to have the “sex talk” with him again last night after he returned home from visiting his girlfriend at her college dorm room. (Again with the necessity of warning labels for kids) He walked in the door and The Doc gave me that look. “We have to have the talk again, you know,” he says. It would have been a heck of a lot easier to pretend that he’d been down the street playing video games with his buddies. Having “the talk” yet again is another reminder that he’s grown up, nearly an adult and capable of making really stupid decisions. Yeah, that is a tough pill of reality to swallow sometimes.
And it broke my heart just a little bit when I tucked in my seventh grade daughter who admitted, “I had a really horrible day.” For the last two days in a row some kids walk by her lunch table and call them “rejects” or “losers.” I have to put it out there that my daughter isn’t a loser or a reject, and I’m not just wearing the parent goggles. She used to sit at the popular table last year, but she left it because “those girls are mean and they make fun of other kids.” Ironically she’s the one who has actually done the rejecting, but she’s polite enough not to point it out. But how do you tell a twelve-year-old girl whose whole world is a social battleground that it doesn’t matter. It does matter…to her. It matters a lot. And it breaks my heart that she has to hear those awful, untrue things about herself. And it scares me that she might start to believe it.
When I was in the midst of baby puke and dirty diapers a wise woman once told me, “Little kids, little problems: Big kids, big problems.” I suppose that’s the extent of the warning label that I could hope for, as nobody could prepare me for how much it hurts to watch your kids hurt and not be able to do a thing about it.
So be warned.