boys will be... good humans

I took a bag of things to a neighbor one street over this evening, and walking back the older gentleman who lives across from us came out to chat. If I'm being honest, I was actually a little worried that he was upset about something. But he wanted to tell me what good boys we're raising. How glad he is that we moved in. How much he enjoys watching the kids play outside. How smart and polite they are, how kind.
And then he told me I was a good mom.

I want to be a lighthouse of a calm, a deserving mother. Someone who is able to focus energy productively. But when sophisticated thinking goes dark and defense mechanisms kick in, it's easy to forget that I am in charge of my own responses.
Sometimes I feel angry, but the news does not "make" me angry, traffic does not "make" me angry, my children do not "make" me angry -- I decide to feel it. Or not.
I want my boys to be angry sometimes. Not petty anger, but righteous anger - there's a place for that, isn't there? How, though, to explain whether it should spill out on the tennis court or the supreme court, the board meeting or the kitchen floor?

Instead of asking them not to get angry, I want to offer the boys practical alternatives, actions that help strong feelings dissipate, that make a positive difference in their day or somebody else's.
Like collecting a bag of October treats to "Boo" a neighbor, or baking apple cake to share with the grumpy old guy across the street. Like getting lost in a good book or finding time to write a note to a relative. Or to the principal / mayor / congresswoman.
It’s like a super power, really, the ability we have to shape our own intentional reactions.
What I've got to offer as a parent feels pathetically scattered. Be brave but don't be reckless. Regard boundaries but don't let go of dreams. Be fierce and opinionated but respect your parents. Don't let the world make you mad but get ANGRY.
Good thing part of my job is to show them they do not need to be perfect.
But mercy, please let them be kind.


rht said...

'The power that men have to annoy me, I give them.'
What an amazing legacy Dad left us...

Poppy John said...

Jenni Baby,
I become ANGRY when I see the phrase "grumpy old guy" in your post...what's up with that?


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