Remember that one time I told you about getting kicked out of a gymnastics class because Tiny Human was being himself… Well, we went back to that class tonight, and TA DA! We made it the whole thirty minutes without being asked to leave. So that’s great! We are totally making progress!
There were definitely some touch and go moments. He really was not getting the concept of not jumping to the front of the line, and each time he completed a circuit (Hands up! Jump! Balance on the beam! Back in line!), he would SQUEAL in delight as he ran back to the start. We are talking, bounce off of the walls squeal. He is the only boy in the class, and since it is a 3-4 year old class, I am going to assume that he is one of the youngest, since he just made the jump to 3 last month.
It was kind of a big deal for us to go back. As I left the class last time, right after we had been asked to leave, I couldn’t decide whether to be amused or be mortified. As the other parents continued their video taping, and their high fiving and golf clapping as their kids tumbled down the wedge, I had to drag my Tiny Human out of the room. I wasn’t entirely surprised it happened, as he was totally being disruptive. He was pretty much that one character that Will Ferrell plays in a movie that I can’t remember the name of, where he is running down the street very much naked and yelling “WE’RE GOING STREEEAAAAKKIINNNNGGG!!!” I get it. But what I couldn’t quite swallow was the fact that the other parents looked very much relieved, and not one made eye contact with me as we made our way out.
You see, once you become a parent, you become a part of a tribe. Like, a legit tribe. We all have our Tiny Humans, and we band together to try our best to just keep them alive until they can do that job themselves. This tribe is literally the basis of our success as Humans. The ability to come together and support each other through this tumultuous time, that is overflowing with Joy and Anxiety and Fear and Love and Anguish and basically ALL THE FEELINGS. Usually at the same time.
Somewhere along the line, though, we forgot this… that we are all part of the same tribe. We forgot that the job of raising Tiny Humans is in fact one of the hardest things that Humans need to do, and we somehow got it into our head that, instead of being on one big team, we are all in fact on our own teams. And that means that all of the other teams, by default, become our competition. It becomes a race, instead of picnic. It becomes a trial, instead of brunch. Going to the park no longer means Going To The Park… it means making sure that your kid doesn’t become THAT KID, lest the other parents make a vague and inaccurate assumption about your Entire Life based on your four year old’s inability to share every toy that she touches. And maybe going to a 3-4 year old’s gymnastic class no longer means going to a place where your Tiny Human can begin to learn the very necessary skills of listening and waiting in line, but instead, becomes a place where it suddenly becomes Not Ok that he doesn’t have it before day one.
Somewhere along the line, we were told that if our Tiny Human doesn’t come out of the womb knowing all of life’s skills and polite interactions, then we were somehow at fault. We were told that it is no longer the Tribe’s job to raise a child up with People Skills, we must now do it at home with no People before we present the Tiny Human to other People.
So here is my simple plea…
Remember that we are all in the same race, for the same team, with the same goal in mind. Disregard what today’s society will tell you. You will never Win by casting glances at parents who are struggling. You will never Win by having a cleaner house, or a bigger paycheck, or a nicer purse. You will never Win by expecting perfection from your children, who are learning so many lessons from so many things (but probably not where you think they are).
You will Win by showing your children what it is to love another human as they are. You will Win by leading by example. You will win by encouraging them to See other people, regardless of their race, income level, mental capacity. You will win by teaching your kids that loving Jesus doesn’t mean going to church, but that loving Jesus means BEING the church. You will Win by loving the other members of your tribe, even if they are never ever Put Together. Even if they are constantly running naked down the street, doing cannonballs into the Lake of HotMess. Because these Tiny Humans make this job hard enough. Imagine what it would look like if you knew going into a shopping trip that if your kids decided that the 5 minute wait in the check out lane would be a perfect time to Do Their Thing and have an Epic Meltdown… Imagine if the other people standing in line would laugh and cheer YOU on. High Five, Mom! You totally got this! High Five, Mom! Way to feed your family! High Five, Mom! Way to help train our future leaders that perhaps Losing Your Shit is not the way to get things! What would that do!! What would it be like to not be so terrified of what other people thought of you that you were free to PARENT in PUBLIC… I can feel my shoulders getting lighter as I type that…
I get it… my Tiny Human is totally insane. He is disruptive and loud. But he is also smart. And fast. And bold. And unashamed. And so when he strips off his shirt and runs screaming onto the mat, I hope you see those things and toss me an encouraging smile. I hope you see what an amazing adult he will be, how he will run boldly into life, screaming and half naked if he must. And I hope you will help me get him there.