Eyes Closed and Smiling Faces

Oliver: “Mom, we are not like regular families.”

Me: “What do you mean? What makes you say that?”

Oliver: “Other families, I see that their kids go to ‘normal’ school and Aiden and I don’t.”

Me: “So you think we are not like regular families because we homeschool you guys?”

Oliver: “Well, not just that. Other families their dads are kind, and their moms are sweet.”

Me: “So you don’t think Mom and Dad are kind and sweet?”

Oliver: “No. What I mean by that is, other dads are kind but with us, it’s the opposite. You are kind, very kind. And Dad, he’s sweet but he can get mad too.”

Me: “But I get mad too, right?”

Oliver: “Yes. You’re very kind but there are things that set you off too. Like a ticking a time bomb!”

Me: “Like what?’

Oliver: “Like if I rang this doorbell even after you said don’t.”

This conversation reminds me that my sons are always looking at me. They’re observing me as much, if not more than I observe them. There are many helpful resources out there that can mold you into the supposed ideal parent. Books, podcasts, shows, groups, etc. They all offer sound advice based on experiences, their own theories, or their expertise through formal education. I’m just not into them. Neither is the Hubby.

No matter how random the conversation took a turn, Oliver is right though, our family is unlike others (I think). We don’t typically follow the norm if the norm doesn’t make sense to us. When the norm is devoid of the values we hold dear, we shy away from it. I believe that not being regular doesn’t necessarily mean becoming irregular. We find nothing wrong in being the parents we hoped we had growing up. And it’s not because we had bad parents or that our parents didn’t do right by us. It’s just that there are things that we would like to be different for our kids than what it was for us.

What’s different? For example – children can be included in grown up conversations but they must know their limits and watch their tone. It’s amazing how a child’s opinion can make more sense than a grown up’s. Children don’t hold biases or overthink. Oliver is free to raise his hand or ask permission if he wants to speak in the middle of an adult conversation and he happens to be around and has an opinion of it. We acknowledge and praise him when his opinion proves valuable to the conversation. And because he’s eight, sometimes we have to walk him through his and our thought processes so he walks away from the conversation with a learning of some sort. We want him to learn that his voice has value and that it matters. He has the freedom to speak his mind, but we also want him to learn how to listen to others. And it’s okay when others find your opinion not as valuable as you want them to. The true values are your abilities to critically think, confidently speak, and remain humble despite rejections.

We hope to raise happy and kind children. But we also hope to raise them with discipline, so they are aware of what is right from wrong. And while Aiden may have to depend on us even for the smallest decisions, we want him to grow up feeling loved, accepted, and safe. Even if he’s very limited verbally, his actions can speak for itself. We also want Oliver to grow up making good decisions and overcoming challenges and having the ability to pick himself up after making a mistake.

These are life skills we work hard at teaching our children as we homeschool them. And it’s not because teachers in regular school can’t teach these but it’s because we want to be the ones to do it.

I always like to say that we aren’t perfect parents and will never even come close to being one. But these boys… they trust us with their eyes closed and smiling faces. We’ll keep growing as parents. I feel blessed actively raising these little humans who aren’t so little anymore. I feel so fortunate being their mom and I hold this toll order of parenting with kindness to them and to myself.

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