Saturday, 27 June 2009

It's tough being five!

Junior had his end of term disco last night. He looked 'swish-bang', but then I always think that. It's really hard being a single mum to a five year old boy. I was never a five year old boy so I'm not quite sure how best to deal with the fragile emotions that come with that. The best I can do is try and relate how I felt as a child to Junior's present situation and deal with things accordingly. I am probably a tad guilty of boosting my son's self-esteem a bit too much but this is something I feel really strongly about. I truly believe that building confidence in children is like handing them the key to a happy and successful future. Having money or the best education in the world cannot compensate for learning about self worth. At the risk of sounding a bit 'American' - we are nothing without belief in ourselves. I regret having to wait until I was about 35 to actually like the person I always was. It feels like a bit of a waste to be honest and I hope that I am now able to make up for lost time. I have learned to accept that I am an amazing person and nobody can ever take that away from me. I accept that the qualities I once thought were weaknesses are in fact the things that have led me down the path that I am now very happy to be following. I will do all I can to ensure that my son will learn to love himself as early as possible. However, it's a cruel world out there and no matter how much I tell him "you are wonderful" "hold your head high and remember you are as good if not better than most" there will be at least ten people waiting to burst his wee bubble. Which is what happened last night.
I left him skipping into the gym hall at 6.30pm and when I went to collect him two hours later I found him sitting on the benches watching everyone else dancing to the migraine inducing, one-hit wonder, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" by the Rednex (what is it with kids and sugary, commercial guff?). I asked him why he wasn't up there showing off his best moves.
"Nobody even noticed me tonight" was his heartbreaking reply. Perhaps this was my fault for telling him that all the Primary 1 girls would want to marry him? Maybe I had over inflated his ego so much that the only way to go was down. And to add insult to injury three of the girls in his class had peeked over the cubicle when he was doing a wee and laughed at him. Not the best night for Junior then.
"And they keep coming over, pushing me and running away!" cried an indignant Junior as his bottom lip quivered in time to the music.
"That's because they like you!" I tried to explain to my tired and confused son.
How difficult a concept is that to grasp? Who would think that being five could be so complicated? And it's only going to get worse! I know I can't protect my child from the hard knocks and rejections he is going to face as he grows up in this complex and cruel world . I can only try and teach him how to retain his self belief when things don't go according to plan. A valuable coping tool for anyone.
Turns out he didn't want to dance because he knew he wouldn't win the prize for best dancer. "Why even try?" was his attitude.
Now, I can remember sitting on the sidelines at my Primary 7 school disco waiting for someone to ask me to dance - (Adrian, why oh why did you never notice me even when I was wearing my satin blue ra-ra skirt and luminous pink legwarmers?!). It was a l-o-n-g time ago but if I think hard enough I can almost hear Eddy Grant singing "I don't wanna dance" and hoping that the throb of the music and the flash of the lights would hide my misery. No-one ever did ask me to dance but I probably gave off major vibes not to come near me so who can blame them.
"Dance for the sake of dancing.." was the advice I gave to Junior last night "..not because there's a prize in it. Dance because it's fun and because you can. Dance like there's no-one watching!"
Me living vicariously through my child again? Probably...
Junior agreed to dance if I agreed not to watch. So I dutifully left the gym hall and covertly spied from a side window where I knew he wouldn't see me. And he did dance like no-one was watching - proper body popping manoeuvres and everything. He didn't win any prizes but he made me smile.'t+Wanna+Dance

"The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard"
Sloan Wilson

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