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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Showing Off with Pride and Joy

We all feel so proud of our children and we love to share that pride with those around us.

It’s been an interesting time these past few weeks. We’ve been staying with my parents in preparation for our trip in June and it’s been quite the learning curve for our little boy.
In new surroundings it was difficult to get him jiving again, but after a few explorations and experiments we got him burbling about. However, with new people around it was hard to keep his cute, playful actions un-noticed. Naturally, in parenting pride and joy, we’ve been calling people over and drawing their attention to his play and cute ways, even as a point of conversation. At first it was a healthy distraction to tell our son to “go tell Grandma,” or “go show Grandpa.” However, over the last few days, although any outsider would tell you he was a happy, little guy, his father and I sensed an ungrounded, disconnected hyperness and spinniness to his 21 month old step. He seemed unfocused and it was effecting him. He got a cold, which was unlike his healthy self and quite honestly, as usually our kids only get sick when they aren’t feeling themselves, it had us wondering what was up.
And then it dawned on me. Suddenly our son was burbling and playing about for other people’s reaction rather then it organically coming out of his inner bliss. He was aware of the show and the performance was what was driving him. We had all gotten into the habit of using him as a reason to feel better ourselves, he’d make us smile, and with his burbling laugh and fun ways, he was sacrificing his own feel good position to make us feel good as a group.
As a spiritually aware parent it’s important not to let our children govern our feeling places for good or for bad. We can’t use them as an excuse to have a bad day or to have a good one. Sure, we can distract ourselves with them, appreciating them, loving them and feeling the joy of watching them play and laugh being everything they really are, but it’s a fine line to passing on the message that we are happy when they are cute and not happy when they aren’t feeling in a fun-loving mood. It creates a false sense of joy for our little ones.
So how do we avoid it when quite frankly it’s a natural reaction to show off our kids sometimes?
Today was the test day. We started with cutting out drawing people’s attention to what our lad was doing. We even told our daughters to stop saying “aw look at him” or “go show your grandparents”. I set him up with a few toys, and sat with him quietly. We watched Mr. Rogers, read a bit, built some towers, found his toy saw and let him pretend to cut away. I watched as he fell back into a sense of self, (looking awfully cute doing it, I’ll admit to you), he chattered, he cooed, he burbled he jived. He then chased his sisters bubbles for an hour, laughing his head off. And we told no one about any of it. Sure my parents might have passed him once or twice, but there wasn’t a sense of showing off, or performing, only being.
He came and sat with me and fell asleep, rather then putting him to bed right away, I let him sit in my arms, sending him messages of security and safety. He then went to bed and napped for 2 hours. He woke up with a sense of groundedness and contentment, as well as ready to rock and roll, playing with us all for a few more hours.
Over the years my husband and I have often talked about the phrase “don’t show off”, and the negative concepts behind it. We felt it squashed a sense of ourselves growing up, as if we had to blend into the crowd. However, today it had me wondering. Perhaps its right, we shouldn’t encourage our children to show off, as then it becomes about other people’s opinions rather then our own instincts. We want our children to do what they do, as it flows directly from everything they are, rather then what they think the grownups around them want to see. Our son is the most lovely, adorable, fun, inspiring little man, and he’s amazing to watch in action. I would love to record everything he does and show the world, but if I did it would stop. No rather, I will let him thrive, glow, and play at his own discretion, I will glow with pride at the sight of it, but not breathe a word to draw people’s attention to it. They will just have to silently appreciate it themselves.

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