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Category Archives: life with the pauls

Yes Paul there is a Santa Cat.

ImageThis was the year that my son decided that he was going to do whatever it took to believe in Santa. He spend weeks trying to figure out the logistics of how a sleigh would land on the roof, how a big old man would be able to get down a chimney, how he would find ways to find real evidence that this was real. You see, I never insisted on creating the myth nor did I deny it. We had Christmas as a time to give gifts to each other and to spend time with family. No big build up to it. This year, he is in a school with different children from different family structures and conversations aren’t as monitored as his previous school; therefore, Santa became a topic of many discussion with information he collected and brought home. Having this dropped on our laps, we decided to go ahead and let it play out for him. We made cookies, his dad got a gift he really wanted even though we told him we would not, could not get him. We put foot prints coming out of the chimney trailing to a box with different wrapping that was from SANTA. It was all there. He tried and tried and tried to make it real for him but he just couldn’t do it. There were too many inconsistencies that bothered him about it. Therefore, he just let me know that even though it’s all there, he knew it was dad and that’s okay because his dad got him what he wanted. He shrugged it off.

NOW there is another side to this story that blows my mind. Each year my husband buys and wraps gifts to each of us from the cats. The wrapping always has cat fur on it and it’s generally something like cat treats or cat toys. It’s been something he has done for 10 years and I always look forward to what Bert and Ember are going to give me. This year, there was a gift from the cats to the little guy. He opened it up with shock and excitement. It was special cat treats from each cat. He took the treats and put them in his room to give to the cats each day and he was so excited that they wanted him to feed them. HE ACTUALLY BELIEVES that the cats somehow went to the pet shop, bought the gifts, wrapped them and put them under the tree. Wha? Okay. It’s been three days now and he still reminds me that “Bert got this for me because he likes tuna treats”, “Ember got dad a scratching post because she wants a new one”.

 And so there we have it. The true spirit of Christmas comes from the two fat, lazy, sloths like cats that are sleeping on the couch right now.

 Merry Christmas little man.

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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in life with the pauls

 

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Wow, he is so much like you!

“He is so much like you!” is the most common statement I hear when family friends see us together. I suppose we look similar but I see more of his dad in his physical features. His sense of humor, love of books, want for solitude and quiet are all his father.He is an easy child to be with when things are good, which is often. I don’t see a lot of me in him when things are calm and lovely.

And then there are the other times. He is so much like me at times that it scares me.  I see anger build up in him when he sees injustice happening to him. I see posturing and standing his ground when he is hurting. I see sadness manifest into coldness in his face.

His reactions to unjust situations don’t surprise me. I don’t pretend to “know” what he is thinking or feeling. I don’t assume that because he came from me, that I know anything more than what he shows and shares with me. What I do know is that when I see his actions/reactions to things, they are too familiar and the pain pierces me deep. I try to talk to him about ways to express his sadness and upsets and tell him about how I feel when things hurt me.I think he understands it but I don’t know if he sees our connection yet.

It’s easy to talk the talk, give him resources to express his feelings, give him space to express himself and still be socially acceptable, and think that it will make a world of difference. BUT I know that there is more than that. This comes from his being. We have similar temperaments and I won’t do to him what was done to me. I won’t  tell him how he feels is wrong or unacceptable. I won’t look at him like he is just being difficult. I won’t tell him to just get over it. It’s not that easy. It’s who he is.

We are faced with similarities of the difficult kind. We deal with  the need to right the wrong with anger and force. I still have it in me. It doesn’t come out like it used to and there are times when I hurt holding it all in. But I’m a grown up and grown ups can’t hurt honestly so I “process” and “talk it out” until I get fed up and just let it out really angry and loud. I feel better afterward but I look around and see the damage I have to clean up. There’s no ‘win-win’. And so now I see my son with a path he may end up following if I can’t figure out a way to show him to be honest with himself about how he feels but without the reaction that will eventually only hurt him.

And now here I am trying to figure out how to make it so he can be so much like me without being anything like me.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in life with the pauls

 

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“Good” and “Bad”

Since Paul started school, he has become a boy of his environment outside of the house. I knew this was going to happen and I’m accepting of some of the things he is learning as “normal” and there some thing I wish I had more say in.

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luke fighting vader

Killing “bad” people is not something that I can wrap my brain around. I grew up with violence outside the house and no one told me that the ‘bad’ people needed to be killed by the “good” people. Identifying people as “good” or “bad” was not taught to me.

We have never used the term “good boy” or “bad boy” in regards to him or to him. I was insistent on making sure he knew that those two terms were based on behaviors and not the being of a person. We are neither good nor bad, sometimes we behave in ways that are deemed good or bad based on the rules of conduct set up for us by our culture to follow. It’s pretty simple. You are not good or bad, you just are.

That being said, I realized in the past year or so that I have competition that is stronger than I can ever be. Star Wars has entered my home on a level so much bigger than I could imagine. My lessons of value and identity are mere words when Star Wars has set up a pretty cut and dry idea of GOOD and BAD. George Lucas in all his movie making wisdom made the people of the Empire bad with simple identifiers: They wear black clothes, have deep voices, the deep foreboding music as Vader entered a room, the Emperors maniacal laugh and electrical finger tips. The gray skin of people who don’t smile or go outside to look at the suns. They are bad because they have one purpose: to protect the Empire by killing whatever gets in their way. The Rebels are good. They wear white, they have a wide range of emotions, they train in nature, they have forest friends and discuss their emotions instead of reacting instantly. They don’t make the first move but will kill if they have to. They are good because they are fighting for freedom from the Evil Empire. It’s pretty cut and dry. I get it. I’m not criticizing Star Wars, I know not to because there are way too many adult men who will deem me as ignorant of the genius of the Star Wars magic. I accept that.

My issue is what it’s done to my son’s perceptive of identifying those who could justifiably kill. I see it in his drawings. He draws the “good” guy with a smile and with lighter colors and the “bad” guy with a frown and darker claustrophobic cloths. I hear it in his language and questions about laws that are for the good and for the bad. It’s in his playing now. This week he created a couple of characters with his Lego’s and was making shooting sounds. I asked him what was happening. He showed me his characters and told me which one was bad because he was a burglar and a murder and which one was good because he was killing the bad guy. WHAT? I had to step outside of my thoughts for a second and not get emotional about it. I asked him why killing the burglar was okay to which he said because he is doing something that’s against the law which makes him a bad guy. When I told him that based on that reasoning, when the good guy kills the other guy, he becomes a bad guy because killing is against the law. At this time, he waved his hand at me like he was done with me and my lack of understanding of the obvious. I walked away from this brokenhearted. My son is becoming a member of our social structure that is able to justify behaviors toward others by creating the “other” or “them”.

Yes, I know that some will think that this is human nature or a ‘boy’ thing. I can’t argue against it anymore, I’m tired. Boys will be boys but when they become men with their “natural” tendencies we deem them as “bad” and punish them. There has to be a moment when we stop allowing ourselves to teach our children to think in such black/white ways because as we see in our culture, our world, what thinking in absolutes creates. Endless wars against the “other”, revenge and discrimination of people we don’t understand or accept because they don’t fit our understanding of “good”. I want more for my son. It hurts me to know how many more obstacles there are in making the world a better place when you have such powerful influences that tell him that things are simply identified based on the easy terms of “good” and “bad”.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in life with the pauls