I’m pretty sure you all know that “Flawless Mom” is just my pen name. And that “Mediocre Mom” is my real name.
But sometimes I hit on something that makes me NEARLY flawless, or I get advice from a friend that gets me even closer.
Last week I was talking to a dad who happens to be G’s best friend’s father. He also happens to be my manager and an incredibly great friend. I told him how G has made it very clear lately that our public rules are changing. There is no more yelling, “I Love You” across the yard. There is DEFINITELY no more “Let me pick you up so you can see that better”, nor are there public kisses. There is still the hug. But it has morphed from a “I might never let go” hug to a “Yeah, Mom. I’ll see you in six hours and 23 minutes” hug.
I am incredibly communicative with my son, but sometimes it doesn’t occur to me to ask simple questions. I was taking this as a new phase, and not something to delve into. But when I mentioned this to my dear friend he said, “Did you ask him why?” I stared at him blankly for a second, head cocked to the side. “Why what?” “Why he’s not being affectionate in public anymore. His answer will give you insight into what he’s feeling.
Wow. Honestly, this notion had completely escaped me.
The next morning on the way to school, I asked. “Hey Garrett”, I started. “I want to ask you something. And I need you to know there is no wrong answer and I will not be upset or hurt at anything you say.”
He said okay.
“Why can’t I kiss you anymore at school or in public? And why have you stopped sayng I love you when we’re out?”
He thought for a minute. “I just kind of like the cool kids. I like being one of the cool kids.”
“And cool kids don’t do that kind of stuff?”
“Is it kind of babyish?”
He was looking out the window at kids walking by. We were parked by now and I could see a slightly pained expression on his face. Sometimes I think these changes are harder for him than they are for me.
“Yeah. Kind of”.
“Well” I said, “I totally get it. And you shouldn’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable. But can I make a deal with you?”
“Can we keep it however you want it at school but I can still hold your hand and hug and kiss you as much as I want when we’re home?”
“OF COURSE! Why wouldn’t you??”
Since then I’ve been getting tons of love at home, and even slightly longer hugs at school.
Sometimes, the most powerful thing we can do as a parent is ask the one question we hear from our kids over and over again.