To my 8 year old son,
I am realizing that being 8 years old isn’t easy and it may be an important age in a lot of ways. I guess every year is important in its own way, but the year than spans between 8 and 9 comes with more awareness than you’ve had before and you are now discovering more conflict outside of your control.
I know you are struggling to figure out how things work and how to have relationships with your peers, explore life, have fun, get as much as you want and (occasionally) follow the rules set out for you. You are realizing that other kids and adults are different and their personalities and behaviors are outside of your control. You are seeing that you can’t set your own rules for the universe and that as right as you think you are about everything, you may come across (many) people who don’t follow along.
You don’t understand why I won’t let you play Minecraft for 8 hours per day, why I make you come in the house before it’s pitch black outside, why you can’t run all over the neighborhood without any adult supervision, have soda for breakfast, or just spit on someone or punch them in the face when they disagree with you.
There will be kids, families, people, etc. that you don’t like. You can tell me about it when we are home, out of earshot of those people. Some people you will be stuck with, in your class, on your team, on your street, and you will have to learn how to get along without giving in too much.
This is all crazy and frustrating. I know.
I want you to enjoy life and find peace and freedom. But I want you to also learn how to get along in the world, have some compassion and understanding while not losing who you are.
Here’s what I’m trying to do for you:
I love you to the ends of the earth. I will have your back. I will do what I can to keep you safe.
I will force you to wear a helmet and give you limitations to things that I consider to be unsafe.
I will let you plead your case to me about trying new things. I will be open to talking about new rules, deals or ideas.
I promise to LISTEN to you. I will try to get you to tell me how and what you are FEELING. But I will know when to stop poking and prying.
Most of all, I want you to learn integrity. I want you to be cooler than the anger, reactivity and drama. I want you to back off, let things go and take responsibility and simply be able to say “oops, I made a mistake”. Recognize the lesson and apologize when learning the lesson came at someone else’s expense.
I will let you play and create and try things as much as I can.
But there are some things I won’t do (or will try my best not to do) for you as your all-loving mom:
I will not protect you from natural consequences (reasonable ones).
I will let you fall. I will let you try things you are determined to try and will stand back without comment, as much as possible.
I won’t start neighborhood drama. I won’t go banging down some other mother’s door because her son said something you didn’t like.
I won’t try to resolve every dispute when you and your buddies are trying to play whiffleball and the teams are lopsided or the foul ball call was unfair. Stop arguing and play on. I’m not your umpire.
I won’t immediately take your side in a disagreement or scuffle, I want to know the whole story and I want to know that you understand your responsibility.
I won’t giggle, laugh or let go behavior that’s totally unacceptable.
I won’t run home from work to bring your forgotten homework assignment to school – especially after I reminded you ad nauseam to put it in your backpack.
I won’t let you blow off your responsibilities to the world just because it’s convenient.
I won’t buy you a puppy right now (because responsibilities) or let you play XBox Live yet (because of chatting with strangers online). And because I said so.
I won’t let you ignore me. And I won’t let you feel alone or ignored.
I won’t let you be obnoxious or a sore winner (or loser) without pointing out how your behavior may make others feel.
Every year, as you grow bigger, you will be faced with new people, new challenges and new frustrations. You will also be faced with new joy, new adventures and new thrills.
To me, now is the time where we can work together on being able to handle all of those things as they come, year after year. Now is the time you start taking your own actions and feelings more seriously and can’t use immaturity as an excuse or cuteness as an “out”.
We are in this together and I want you to get what you can from me now.
P.S. Love you MORE