Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Hard Stuff

Remember Mork and Mindy, how when they finally had a child, he was in his fifties or so? I think the idea was he would actually get younger as he got older.

Let me explain why it doesn't really work that way: because as difficult as taking care of a baby or toddler can be, as sleep-deprived or patience-tested you get, it's nothing to the challenges involved in the tween and teen years.

Monster #1 has been on a teen tear this week, which I'm not going to share here. But I will tell you about Monster #2's heartbreak.

Both Monsters are involved in 4-H, and this year was #2's first foray into DPA (District Project Achievement). At the county level, he won first place in his area, which meant he got to present his project and compete at the district level, which was today. He's worked incredibly hard to prepare and was very excited about competing. His visual aids were good, his speech was good, he was prepared, his confidence was up. He did well in competition.

His competitors did well also. I told the DH as we were leaving for lunch, before the awards ceremony, that I wasn't sure if he'd place. We'd talked to him about it over the past few days, and I thought we were good.

Well . . .

He didn't place, and we weren't good. The kids were seated on the gym floor and the adults were in the stands. Once it hit him that he didn't place, my baby, my heart, was sitting with his head bowed and even from a distance, I could tell he was crying quietly.

In my writing career, I've been rejected more times than I really want to count (it's over a hundred, okay?). I've had harsh rejections and harsher reviews. In my teaching career, I've had parents bash me, students make some really harsh comments about my teaching while I was teaching, and suffered through one really wickedly bad job interview. I can handle getting knocked down. I simply get back up.

Watching my Monster struggle with getting knocked down when he'd worked hard, tried his best and (in his head) failed? I'd take a hundred more rejections to spare him that. At the same time, while I was watching him (and tearing up as well because I couldn't do anything to comfort him), I knew what I was seeing was one of those darned hated-yet-valuable life lessons: sometimes we try our best and don't make the cut. Then we have a choice: keep trying or give up. Monster #2's already making plans for next year, so he just might be his mama's son. I realize, too, that this is the first of several knock-downs I'll have to watch him experience as he grows older. I'm glad to see he can pick himself up and dust himself off and get back in the game*.

One bright spot: After I wiped my own eyes, I looked down to find Monster #1, who was serving his first day as a teen leader with our county 4-H group, kneeling beside his brother, arm around his shoulder and offering support and comfort. So even the sometimes-so-moody-I-want-to-kill-him Monster has potential.

I think I'll keep them, even if we are embarking on some of the really hard stuff.


MaryF said...

HUGS to #2! I know what you mean about wanting to take that pain from him, though. And good for him for planning for next year. And good for #1 for recognizing his brother's pain.

Amie Stuart said...

I went through something similar with my #2 who is very sensitive and really takes things to heart. We had to have a talk about medicating him and the ADD and his initial reaction was, "Why are you punishing me? What did I do?" *sigh*

The other one? I still can't wait for him to go live with his dad. WHere's june?