I have a boy who is confident, stubborn and a little daring. He isn’t much for sharing feelings or admitting when he’s sad or scared and I’ve realized lately that I can’t just leave him be yet.
He’s only 7. And I’m still his mommy.
Other moms of boys have warned me about the lack of communication with sons. My younger son may be much better about letting me know his feelings or fears, my 7 year old rarely will. But Andrew is fairly thick-headed (I attribute this trait to my wife’s side of the family). He tries to be so independent and tough so often, I think I’ve let my guard down occasionally and maybe not always considered that he may still need his mommy from time to time. I definitely give him leeway to be the tough big guy he wants to be (and is for the most part) but also have realized that I have to pay attention for when he is trying to ask me to be his “mommy” without him having to say it aloud.
In the last 2 weeks, I’ve caught him twice needing his mommy and my mommy senses were up to catch it.
Two weeks ago when his Norwegian cousins left, he fought and fought back any sad feelings until I could sense his inner turmoil. When I focused on it and opened the door to let him really tell me what he felt, the floodgates opened and he just melted into my arms in a ball of tears.
Yesterday, I had a similar moment. Andrew insisted on doing a 4-story aerial park. He was fearless throughout getting suited up and walking out onto the first obstacle. Very quickly, his confidence started to wane and I could start seeing some cracks, but he kept on going. About 10-15 minutes in, he ended up in a place where he was too scared to go any direction but back the way he came and he was stuck. He stepped out on a flimsy rope and kept playing in his head what to do next.
I stood probably 30 yards away and couldn’t help him. I saw his face, saw the angst, the fighting back of tears and the frustration as he tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he asked an older boy for help and the boy helped pull him back to the platform. From there, Andrew asked an adult how to get back to the exit. The entire time, he held himself together and got himself out.
As the attendant helped Andrew get out of his harness, I could see his face…he fought so hard to not lose it. The exit door opened and I got down on my knees so he could jump into my arms. When he did, he just let it all out.
He cried like my little boy. He cried because he had gotten scared. He cried because he wasn’t able to be as brave as he thought he was. He cried because he didn’t succeed the way he envisioned. It broke my heart a little but I also had some relief that he was able to admit that fear.
He’s still only 7 and he’s still my little boy.
I admire his fearlessness, even after the aerial park meltdown, he said he wanted to try it again soon. I admire his confidence. I admire all of these traits that can be as frustrating as Hell in a 7 year old but admirable in an adult. And I want to allow him to be himself, to be independent and fearless. But I also want to make sure I keep my mommy senses up and make sure I know when he needs his confident, fearless space and when he needs to be held and comforted by his mommy (for a minute or two then I need to back off again).
After all, he’s still only 7 and he’s still my little boy.