Sunday, March 9, 2014

What Parenting Is, and What It's Not

I have this kid. He has a gift. Always has. He can do things with numbers that would dazzle you if you could follow him as he swings, lithe and carefree, from branch to branch, tree to tree. He is, I think, a math magician. I admit that I cannot understand his mathematical thinking most of the time, and I consider myself relatively skilled at math. He once told me that for him numbers have their own colors. Personalities, if you will. I nodded, acknowledging, but without the slightest comprehension of what it must be like to live in his world.

When he makes use of his gift, when he shares his insights with others, I am proud. Why wouldn't I be? But I do not deceive myself. His talents have nothing to do with my parenting. He was born that way. I may have provided him with an environment that hasn't discouraged his skills, but I will cop to no more on that front.

Do you want to know what makes me really proud of him? It's the way he has worked on the things that do not come so easily to him. No, I will go further: it's the way that we have worked on the things that do not come so easily to him. It's how he spent a Friday night at a hotel with his math team. It's how he didn't need to call us. It's how he wasn't even homesick. It's how he talked comfortably to strangers. It's how he didn't worry about his upcoming performance. It's how he got himself to sleep easily in an unfamiliar setting with none of the comforts or crutches of home. It's how he didn't lose anything -- didn't leave belongings at the hotel or on the van. 

So forgive me if today I am beaming. His team placed first in a state competition, and that is amazing, truly. My son's brains will take him far. But my smile is wide because my kid had a wonderful time away from us and did not suffer even a flutter or jolt of anxiety. If I take a moment to pat myself on the back on my child's behalf, it will be because when the first great opportunity arose, he embraced the world instead of shying away from it.  

10 comments:

Mary Gilmour said...

Dead on the mark.
And he is sure some kid, just as you are sure some mother.

Amy said...

I totally get this. Whenever J goes right up to a counter to ask for something, or just steps in and makes things work when we are out and about I am just incredibly proud. Feel so good to see the man your boy will become, right? Happy for you both!

Kate G said...

Super cool. It's great that his synesthesia actually helps him--mine with numbers confuses me and makes me absolutely no better at math. :)

Bibliomama said...

Yup. I feel the same way - most of the great stuff about my kids magically appeared with them. We had to do some work on anxiety too, and it's hugely gratifying when it pays off. (And both my kids are better at math than I am - thank goodness I married well).

Melissa Hicks said...

A sure sign of success, Sarah...My times of beaming come when my son flies on his own. It kinda shows us that we were pretty darn successful, even if we may not have been sure what we are doing. You've done good. Keep going.

Patois42 said...

Embracing the world is a true gift.

Vodka Mom said...

And I'm trying to keep my "gift" from getting expelled from his German class. Apparently he's inherited his mom's gift of talking when it's not appropriate.




dang it.

Christine said...

What a wonderful kid! I think numbers have personalities, too.
:-) He is lucky to have you leading the way for him and guiding him through to independence.

InTheFastLane said...

His gift may have nothing to do with you - but finding the support to express it, and finding the support to deal with the things in life that are not so easy - that is all you.

Rainbow Motel said...

I totally get this. Someone I know confided some terrible things about their teenager and then asked me if I had ever had that kind of problem with our boys. I had to admit that did not. The stuff she is going through is awful and our boys--while not perfect- make us so proud of them in the same ways that you are proud of your son. I feel for those parents who don't have that.