"I'm scared of my mom. Actually, I take that back. I'm not scared of my mom. Because my mom doesn't hit my for no reason. Because mostly it's my fault. Because I have to learn to be good all the time."My heart broke a thousand times as I sat there next to my second grade student, while he recounted all the incidents of physical abuse to the child protective services worker. A few days prior, I noticed bruises on his face, and after speaking with him, I learned that he'd been physically harmed by his mother. Several times. Sigh.
And then I just thought of Aiden and the relationship that we're developing together…
It was afternoon. Saturday. Snowy and cold and just how we like it around the holiday season. Aiden and I were running late to the children's theater to see a show, and we were also really hungry. I guess hunger took precedence over intelligence because as we were passing a pizza shop, we somehow thought it was a good idea to grab a couple slices and drinks. To go. In the cold and the snow.
We ate our slices (more like inhaled them) as we walked over to the theater, and, by the time we got there, our fingers were frozen. We quickly downed our drinks, tossed the containers in the trash, and went into the theater. Five minutes after the show started. As we walked into the theater, we were giggling and laughing and rubbing our hands together in order to get some feeling back in our finger tips.
The moment was priceless, the afternoon was fun, and it was one that Aiden and I have been talking about whenever we reminisce.
That little guy, he's my buddy. I love the person he's turning into and I love the relationship we're developing.
That's all that I could think of as my sweet second grader sat in my office and bravely told his story to the child protective services worker — that Saturday afternoon when Aiden and I walked the snowy streets of Manhattan with pizza in our hands. We didn't care that people were looking at us like we were crazy. We didn't care that our hands were frozen and our pizza was getting snow on it. We didn't care that, in the midst of scarfing down our food, we took a wrong turn, which made us five minutes late to the show. We just hurried and laughed and ate. It was just us two.
Yes, there are moments of frustration and disappointment. Yes, there are times when I give Aiden a time-out because I'm the one who really needs the time-out. Yes, I say things and then evaluate what I said after the fact. (Like when I say, "Aiden, you're really annoying me right. Go sit over there…" or something to that effect.)
I'm his parent. And he gets disciplined and time-outs and loss of privileges if need be. But I've built a relationship with him where he can feel safe and loved and cared for. I didn't have that when I was growing up. I, too, thought it was my fault when I was physically abused while being in foster care. And when I was pregnant with Aiden, I made it a choice to never intentionally make him feel that way.
The thing is, this parenting thing is hard, y'all. I get it. Kids are frustrating and annoying sometimes. I get that. And life makes everything that much more stressful when parenting gets hard and kids get frustrating. I haven't figured it all out yet and I probably never will.
But I'm so, so happy that I've learned to find other ways to parent Aiden that doesn't require belts and bruises and physical scares for life.