Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Black Sheep

I talk a lot about Adler.  As a toddler, he is a constant source of entertainment (and blog fodder) while simultaneously reaching peak cuteness.  In fact, when you plot just about any two blog-worthy characteristics on a chart, you'll find that Adler is on the rise.

I shouldn't be surprised, though.  Parenting Adler is just one big déjà vu moment-- one that I went through with Cael, my first maniacal, spirited, spit-fire.  But Graham, sweet Graham-- is my black sheep.

It seems that in every measurable way (and several unmeasurable ones), Graham is just different.

Cael's hair is curly; Graham's is straight.
Cael excels in sports; Graham tries.
Cael is the stereotypical extrovert; Graham likes time to himself.

But a few days ago I discovered the core difference between my boys.  Cael is secure in who he is and spends no time worrying about such trivial things as emotions and personalities.  And Graham, sweet Graham-- finally said to me, "Mom, sometimes I feel like I just don't fit in with our family."

My heart nearly broke, but I held it together and said all of the things.

"You may be different, but you do fit in perfectly."
"Being sensitive and sweet is a good thing."
"If everyone was the same, the world would be so boring."

The truth is a little different, however.  If he was older, I could explain how I love that he is quiet and sensitive because I need him to be that way.  I need a little balance in this house full of noise and overconfidence.  I could tell him that even though I didn't get a daughter, in him I got the gentleness and sweetness of a girl.  The art.  The pretend.  The soft skin and morning snuggles.

So how do you tell someone that they need to lose a little of what you love most about them?

Graham is too sensitive.  His feelings hover right at the surface, and his gregarious brothers easily steamroll him.  He cries daily from barely scraped elbows and less than callous remarks.  I love who he is wholeheartedly, but for his own sake, he needs to toughen up.

I want to prepare him for the day I set him loose, and I don't want to spend that day in fear that one unkind word from a supposed friend will send him into a thumb-sucking tailspin.  That sort of meltdown is better handled at six than twenty-two.

Do you think people really change?  Should they?  Is there a kind way to tell a child that they need thicker skin?  Does anyone have any tips for removing Sharpie marker from matte wall paint?  I'd love some advice from my fellow parents out there.  My walls and my Graham, sweet Graham-- thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Does he have any special, just Graham activities? It might be nice if he finds his people so to say, in an art class or some interest that is just his, and not filled with expectations from how well his brothers do in it. Also, I don't have personal experience with it but I have heard great things from people about how drama/acting classes building confidence and self-esteem.

    Otherwise, with school starting soon, perhaps talk his his school counselor, perhaps there is a social or emotional skill group in the school he can join or the counselor can give you some tips/techniques/advice.


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.