Saturday, March 15, 2014

Dear Walmart Father {Children Are Like Flowers}

I understand that you've probably had a tough day. The dirt on your jeans and the stains on your hands tell me that you've worked hard. The slant of your eyebrows and the furrow of your forehead tell me that you are tired, that you'd rather be at home watching Storage Wars, that this is the last place on earth you want to be: here with your lovely wife and two beautiful children.

How old is your son? Four? Five? He oozes a bright curiosity that reminds me of my own. 

The questions are exasperating. Believe me, I know. You think they won't end. That there's no finale to the answering. That nothing can ever happen where he won't demand "Why??!!"

I'm here to tell you, it does end. And when it does, your heart will shudder and you'll find yourself begging him to talk to you, to ask questions, to wonder about the world beyond Minecraft, to hug you, to say "I love you, too."

When did you stop asking questions? When did you stop viewing the world like a giant floating ball of opportunity and excitement? When did you stop looking at the sky from the perspective of a dandelion or imagine yourself a revving engine in the middle of the frozen foods aisle? Can you remember how big the world was? What it was like to always have to look up? How airplanes were superheros and how sure you were that you'd find dinosaur bones in the sandbox?  How, by growing up, you stopped fully living?

"Juice boxes? Juice boxes? Why do you want to buy juice boxes???" He was so darling, standing right beside me, his chin resting on the lip of the counter, his finger tapping the juice on the conveyer on it's way to the cashier.

"My kids like juice boxes for school," I told him. "Do you like juice boxes?"

"Oh yes!" he said, grinning.  

Until you yelled at him.  Loud enough for them to hear you in the men's department. "Get back here! Don't be rude!"

His little head fell like a petal from a flower. 

There are only so many pieces of a child you can break before the world that once was vibrant becomes gray.  There are only so many times you can strike him with words before he strikes back with his own.  

The most important job you have is teaching him what it means to be a man. You are his example. Boys want to be like their father. Be the man you want him to be. Even if you've had a hard day. Even if you're stretched to the end of yourself. Gentleness speaks a language much louder than anger.

I am far from perfect. I have let bad days inform my parenting. I have made poor choices and caused hurts that took much more than a band-aid hug to heal. I have learned hard lessons. I have marched my children from this very same Walmart, steam pouring from my ears, because one son kicked his sandal on top of the produce rack - marched them right out, him with one barefoot - so I could unleash my 'Are you kidding me???!!!" in the privacy of our station wagon. I have spoken too quickly, reacted too harshly, hated myself for the way my anger hurt them. I am writing this letter as much for myself as I am for you.
"Children are like flowers; tend to them and they will grow into something beautiful, step on them and they will wither." Alanna Rusnak, SelfBinding Retrospect

Raising children is a forever vocation, an eternal education, the greatest gift and the highest hurdle. We parents won't ever be perfect - but if we're trying, if we're loving through our trying, if we're humble, quick to apologize, slow to anger, generous with our praise and consistent with constructive discipline, we will raise up sons and daughters - men and women - who address the world with a vibrancy of character that we can be proud of.

Children are like flowers. Tend to them and they will grow into something beautiful. Step on them and they will wither.

Featured on BlogHer.com http://www.ivillage.com.au/when-raising-children-be-who-you-want-them-to-become/

15 comments :

  1. Marie BezeauMarch 15, 2014

    Amazing my friend!!! And well put. A great reminder to all parents.

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  2. Love this! I too have taken an unruly child out of the grocery store,yelled things I shouldn't have and begged for my children to stop asking why. And now, I crave a moment when they need me to answer any question. The answer really is loving through trying whatever stage you are at.

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    1. Sometimes it takes those less than flattering moments to put everything in perspective. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I still have two little(ish) ones so I've still got some time to grab onto and learn to appreciate those 'moments' but my oldest is so independent that I often feel unnecessary - but then I think about how much I still find myself needing my own parents and I breath a little sigh of relief :)

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  3. Lovely and sad. A good reminder for all of us and beautifully written as always

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    1. Thanks, Kristina. Parenting is tough and unless we admit that and help each other we'll all be a little bit lost

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  4. Wow, that speaks volumes. My children grew up so fast. I miss their little faces which I could kiss. Now I'm content with hugging them. Yes, I made some mistakes but at least they still love me and I them. Thank you so much for publishing this wonderful work.

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    1. Thanks, Richard! Hugs speak volumes so don't underestimate them ;) We all make mistakes...as long as we're learning from them they make us stronger and better!!!

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  5. All I can say is "Guilty". We have all had those days when we've gotten angry and said things that were less-than-stellar. Somehow it seems harsher coming from Dad. Kids realize that Mom has crazy moments, but if it comes from Dad - He must mean it! I don't envy any with little ones these days. I miss it at times, but it is a much tougher world. I say this and my children are in their early twenties. It's not like it was that long ago, but at the same time, it seems forever ago.

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    1. Time for grandbabies soon??? ;) Time does fly. My oldest is 12 and I feel like I dreamed his whole childhood. It's just gone. And now he's growing a mustache. This breaks my heart!!!

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  6. Fay NeilsonMarch 25, 2014

    Great truth Alanna.

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  7. I love your writing!

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  8. Fantastic insights Alanna! A great read;)

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  9. Beautifully written, something all parents need to be reminded about, especially with young children.

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  10. Great post my friend!!!

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I love comments and I appreciate, consider and read each one. I welcome your thoughts, whether you're in agreement or not; however, this blog is a happy place and I will remove any comment that I believe to be inappropriate, malicious or spam like.

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