Monday, July 16, 2007

Growing Up and Broken Bones

My son grew six inches today.

I told him so.

He admitted to doing something wrong. He admitted to causing an accident that ended up breaking someone’s leg.

And I didn’t have to make him see, he just saw. I didn't have to explain, over and over, why what he did caused this broken bone. He knew. Deeply.

I was wrong, he said to me through tears. I shouldn’t have done that. I was wrong.

This is a boy who goes out in the ocean with his brothers and always watches the other two, to be sure they are safe in the waves. He is also the weakest swimmer, but he doesn’t know that. He just watches over his brothers because it is his nature.

But when he's in a room of peers and someone says, Hey, let's go- you fill in the blank. Doesn't matter what it is, Ben is all over it. Part of it is simply because he wants to fit in. Part of it is because he loves the thrill of getting away with something. No matter what, it ends up in trouble.

Today, it was an accident goofing around on adult exercise equipment he’s long been forbidden to get on ending in a broken leg.

He wasn’t the only one responsible but he’s the only one who stood up and admitted it was his fault. The terror of actually having had caused a serious injury blanched him pure white.

In fact, he said it was all his fault. His house, his things, he knew better. In many ways, he’s right.

I put my arms around him and told him I knew he was not someone who would ever hurt anyone else, ever.

Uh… that’s after I yelled at him that he had broken her leg. I did not start off in a calm place. But his admission got me to that calm place in an instant. I saw that sweetness in him, the sensitive boy who is running afraid of everyone else’s judgments about what a boy should be, how a boy should act. The look in his eyes that one friend of mine said to me made her think he’d be a minister someday.

I still think corporate tax attorney with a penthouse condo in Manhattan but what do I know.

After a little while, I asked him to think about what makes him do things that are so against his nature. Was it showing off? Was he doing something someone else put him up to even though he knew it was wrong? Because he was going to get a lot more of that in the next few years. There would be a lot of people asking him to do things that don’t feel right. He needs to learn how to say no.

Firmly. And with confidence. It’s not about tattling, I explained. It’s about saying no, not cool. No thanks.

Because when he didn’t today? A little girl got a broken leg. Hairline, and it will heal quickly but… a broken leg is a lot more painful than a friend’s disapproval. Not just for her, but for him.

He kept crying and saying, I’m so sorry… it’s my fault… I’m so sorry…

And I rocked him and said, Grown-ups can’t always say they’re wrong. You’ve grown six inches today.

I am so proud of you, Ben.


Anonymous AFW said...

How lucky he is to have you as a mother. xxx

3:00 PM  
Blogger Diatribal said...

What a touching post. Not to be cliche, but it seems he may have learned a huge lesson. So sorry you had to go through that.

12:30 AM  
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