Not A Hair on His Head

I wrote this post in November of 2009; I hit publish, then pulled it back to "Draft" within minutes. It was too raw, too fresh, for me to share; my anger was greater than my reason.

And I was scared - what if the "expert" was right?

What I suspected then, even through the steam of my fuming mama bear rage, is that no expert knows my child like I do. What I knew in my heart then - and now - is this: trust your instincts, mama bears. Listen with an open mind, yes, but don't ever forget that you, Mom, are the #1 expert when it comes to your child.

Huck is wonderful, by the way, a wonderful, bright, sweet little boy. If you're lucky enough to drop by my messy house for a visit, he won't let you leave without a big bear hug and a picture he's drawn just for you.


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Knute and I spent early yesterday morning sitting in a conference room with Huck's kindergarten teacher and the school psychologist, both kind and caring professionals.

And, in my humble opinion, both jumping the gun a bit on my fantastic five year old boy.

Rather than the typical can't-sit-still type discussion one might expect to have with your son's teacher, what we discussed was Huck's social skills.

The concern?

While his academics are rock-solid, even advanced for his age, he isn't chitchatting up a storm with his classmates or his teachers.

Ok, I said, nodding. But let me ask you this: Is he happy?

Yes, was the resounding answer. He's a happy, sweet, obedient boy in class, one who is happiest when he's sitting at the art center tables making little books, drawing elaborate pictures, and being deeply focused on creating, coloring, and writing.

None of this surprised Knute and I, not the artistic tendencies, or the need for the conference (Huck isn't good with transitioning in class, something that happens a lot during a day at kindergarten) nor the utter befuddlement of the teacher to have a child in her class who was happier working independently rather than jostling for the alpha dog position in the kindergarten circle.

He doesn't always stand up for himself if he's accused of something unjustly, she said, mentioning that he'd taken the willingly taken the blame for something he hadn't done.

He doesn't like strife, I replied. He's a peaceful soul.

{In my mind, I thought of the night earlier this week when little Tom had a bedtime tantrum over which story would be read. Huck walked out of the room after him, saying sadly, "Don't be angry, brother. I don't like it when you're angry." Tom melted, hugging him and saying, "I'm so sorry."}

I've told him not to use his size or strength to win a point, Knute (in his 6'4" frame) thought {as he told me later, the two of us discussing the conference after the kids were in bed}. I've told him he needs to look out for those that are smaller and weaker.

Would you rather have the biggest, tallest boy in your class be a pushy bully? I had thought as I sat listening politely and fuming quietly. Funny, isn't it, how Knute and I think on the same wavelength

We just want to be sure to grab this opportunity for intervention, the psychologist said. These could all be red flags.

And while I love that my son is in a school so clearly concerned with each student as a developing individual, I merely nodded, thinking:

He's only five.

He chimes in about his day all the time at dinner.

He's bookended by two chatterbox siblings who could each spend all their waking hours running their mouths to him, to us, to the dogs, to their toys. He patiently (more patiently than his mother) endures their endless stream of consciousness banter.

He wakes up early every morning, gets dressed in the clothes I've laid out for him, then sits and colors and draws and creates his masterpieces quietly in his room until I'm awake.

He frequently walks up to the adults we regularly see at Kroger or the library or the Y and starts a conversation; they're never bothered by him, in fact, they're always happy to see him. His natural friendliness is one thing I worry about when it comes to issues of stranger danger.

Most of all, my thoughts came back to this:

He is one of the kindest, most giving people I've ever had the privilege to know. That he is my boy is a wonder of wonders.

So while I'm happy that my boy's school is concerned with his progress and so invested in his success, I do have to say that I feel unsettled.

He's not like the other kids - yes. I completely agree.

He is amazingly, wonderfully, and joyfully unique.

He is the boy who as a baby could patiently stack and unstack rings and blocks before he could fully sit up alone.

He is the boy who as a toddler could draw a circle at eighteen months on his Magna-Doodle and who wrote his name when he was three.

He is the boy who as a two year old would come running, smiling, to find me in the kitchen, just for a big hug.

He is the child who is a bright ray of sunshine in my life and the lives of those around him.

So while I agree wholeheartedly that we should team up as parents and educators, working hard to give him all the tools he'll need for success in his life, I must also tell you this:

Don't you dare ask me to change who he is.

Put your cookie cutter developmental milestones and your red flag checklists away and just let him bloom on God's time, not yours.

Because he's pretty damn wonderful just the way God made him.