Yesterday, as I put away the last remnants of Thanksgiving and turned my attention towards Christmas, I was again struck by how grateful I am for so many things in my life. I am grateful for a family that loves to play games, watch movies, tell stories, craft practical jokes and spend time together. I am grateful for my creative daughter, who enabled me to put names to faces and images to places through an impromptu college slideshow. I am grateful for a sister and close friends who make my life richer. I am grateful for Southern California weather and the fact that it does not seem the least bit odd to spend a lazy Saturday in November at the beach.
This morning, Nick reminded me of something else for which I am grateful – the opportunity to be his mom. Our children impact us all in both subtle and obvious ways. But it is Nick who is teaching me to find humor, and dare I say joy, in the unusual. This is a good thing.
I’ve always been shy and easily embarrassed. As a child, my shyness was limiting. Large social situations were daunting and, I am told, caused me to hang back at neighborhood parties. In high school, I asked my parents to stay away from track meets because I didn’t like the attention. As an adult, I remember feeling uncomfortable when my sister-in-law nursed my nephew in public (in my defense, 22 years ago it wasn’t as common as now). I even remember a few years ago, fighting the urge to close the car windows as my daughter belted out Don’t Stop Believin’ at the top of her lungs, while blasting Journey from the CD player in our Suburban. To further illustrate the point, I don’t prefer to call in orders for takeout food, I don’t like celebrating my birthday (except with a very small group of friends) and I still look for excuses to avoid large events. It is just the way I am wired.
Nick has his own agenda, which frequently conflicts with mine. And guess what – he doesn’t care. At all. Nick finds joy in many of the same things that put me on edge. He loves riding in the car with the windows open blasting Eminem and Little Wayne songs and singing along. He loves talking at the top of his lungs when we go for evening dog walks around the block. He loves making silly faces when posing for pictures – anywhere and everywhere. He loves rocking out to Guitar Hero at Dave & Busters. He takes longer showers than his sister and doesn’t mind being late. He thinks listening to his iPod at 5 a.m. is alright. His current favorites are locking me out of the car whenever he can and avoiding me whenever someone else he knows is nearby. Loving Nick leaves no room for shyness or embarrassment.
So I am being forced to change, but it isn’t always easy. Nick often wakes up with ideas. In September, he went to school in all UW attire, purple cap included. Last week he smuggled three recent sports trophies to school to show his wrestling coach. This morning, he woke up and decided to wear a clip-on tie and use his dad’s old black briefcase instead of his backpack. Neither fashion accessories are cool in high school. So there it was, my test.
Now, I won’t say I didn’t try to persuade him to take off the tie and leave the briefcase at home, because I did. But after he left the house I thought to myself, this is easier for me than pink hair and a nose ring. And so it goes.