Saturday, December 23, 2006

Loving My Son the Best Way I Know How

I love Scud. I really, truly adore this child. Reading over my blog lately, I've realized that he hasn't been as huge a feature here as either Kaitybean or Mashuga. That's probably because Scud is just always there, flowing through all of the cracks and filling all of the empty places. He is not just our child, his presense really defines our whole family. He doesn't have Kaitybean's flair for the dramatic or Mashuga's mischievous tendencies. He is just so perfectly, sweetly, beautifully himself.

Scud has always been my most obedient child. Oh, sure, he'll whine and complain every once in a while. But, in the end, he usually does what is asked of him. He'll wake up in the morning before I do, get dressed for school, feed himself breakfast and take out the garbage - all without being asked. I'll wake up at 7:30 to find him watching cartoons, ready to go. He is so eager to please us.

He is also very tender-hearted. Discipline for Scud is best when it consists of HUGE amounts of praise for all of his positive behavior and gentle, simple reminders of what is right when he has done wrong. In fact, we find that he is most difficult when we discipline him harshly. If he feels like he is letting us down, his whole world falls apart and he has a hard time wanting to try.

Scud also has difficulty adapting. And waiting. And not knowing what's going to happen.

So, this holiday season has been hard on him.

And on me, because the whining has been nearly constant. Often at the center of the whining is one big thing: a drum set. You see, he wants one very badly. And I just don't feel right about him having one right now.

Scud has wanted to play the drums for as long as I can remember. Every time he sees a band on TV, every time he hears a song with a good drum beat, he tells me that he wants to play the drums someday.

I think this is fantastic. I want to get him started on drum/percussion lessons right away. I want to nurture and support this dream of his.

So, where does my quandary about the drum set come from? We can afford to get him a small, decent set. It's not money. The decibel level in our house is already higher than most. It's not the noise. I'm not entirely sure from where my misgivings have come.

But, there is one thing I do know. I want MORE for him. I want what's best for him. I want for him to feel joy and confidence and security.

You see, Scud has been whining and begging and threatening that he will never be happy if he doesn't get a drum set. But, I see my sweet boy, who is so often unsure of himself and I want to give him gifts that are so much greater than what he wants right now.

I want him to feel the joy and satisfaction of learning to play an instrument, a little at a time. I want to see his face light up as he begins to figure out the intricacies of rhythm and sound. I want him to feel the immense gratification that comes from starting small and growing bigger and better with time.

To place a shiny, red drum set by the tree on Christmas morning feels like I'd be taking more away from him than I'd be giving. I can see his delight upon walking into our living room to see it glistening there. I can see his excitement as he sits down to play it. But, he really isn't sure exactly how to play the drums. As he bangs random drums, he begins to realize that there is a bit more to this drumming thing than what he sees on TV. It's not as easy as it looks. So, he might enjoy his drums for a little while, until they sit in the corner gathering dust because they just weren't as fulfilling as he thought they'd be.

In contrast, imagine the scene of Scud walking into his first drum lesson. Imagine him getting his first practice drum and learning how to play it. Imagine him getting better, growing in confidence, gaining skill. Then one day, after he's really gotten good and is ready to take it on, we surprise him with the gift of that shiny, red drum set. He immediately sits down and starts to play it. And this time he's not just fooling around, banging randomly. He's really playing the drums. And he knows it. And it feels good. That drum set is more than metal and membranes. It's more than music, even. It's a symbol of accomplishment, it's a well-earned prize for hard work and learning. Those drums are suddenly a part of who Scud is, a part that he feels really good about.

Like I said before. I don't want to get Scud a drum set. I want him to have so much more.

More than anything, I want to give Scud the gift of himself. To help him see that he is so much more than a receiver of gifts, that our love for him is so much greater than our wallets can hold. That he is brilliant and beautiful and capable and amazing.

But that can be so hard to do. I've often said that Scud is my "easiest" child. But the truth is, he is probably the hardest.

Like I said, I adore this child of mine. He is so good, so wonderful.

Some mornings he'll crawl into my bed with me, nestle his sweet head on my arm and whisper "I love you, Mommy." He fits there so perfectly, like he's just melting into me and we're no longer two separate beings, but one.

But, sometimes I'm not sure that I'm loving him the right way. Too much discipline or too little? Too much space or not enough? He is so tender and malleable. So sensitive to our every move as parents.

So, I sit here at my computer two days before Christmas writing out my concerns about something so small as a gift. Hoping I've made the right decision. Loving him in the best way I know how.

Because, I want to give this sweet child, my child who lifts and loves us all as he flows through our lives, the kinds of gifts he deserves.

The best gifts.


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