Having kids is incredibly humbling. If it isn’t, you’re not doing it right. First, toddlers and little kids have no filters. Whatever comes into their brains comes out of their mouths. Trust me, I’ve blushed my way through many a toddler no-filter moment….”I am NOT touching my penis!” (yelled by Little Man in the middle of Target, immediately followed by a loud snicker from the next aisle over, and me leaving the full cart to take my child and walk out of the store). “Mom, why are you bleeding???!!!” – asked, loudly, in the stall in a bathroom at O’Hare airport (the kids were all under 6 years old, and thus, with me in the family/handicapped stall after a long flight). “Ewwww…doesn’t he know smoking can kill him? Why do people smoke, Momma?” – asked, within two feet of the smoking man, who immediately put out his cigarette. We won’t even get into the comments regarding other’s unusual appearances, food choices, hairstyles, cars. Suffice it to say, I’ve perfected that, “I’m so very sorry…..You know…kids will say the darndest things,” look.
I was so relieved when my kids grew out of this phase, although, with a child on the spectrum who doesn’t always get the social niceties, we sometimes get a return to this place. Now, I have two teenagers, and one nine months away from being a teenager (Lord save me!). It requires an entirely new kind of humility. Teenagers, in their need and effort to pull away, to become independent, can say the meanest things, and in a tone that will leave you wondering what alien invaded your child’s body. My older two are pretty decent kids, but it’s the natural order for them to fully believe they know all, and are right about everything. They rarely fail to inject that “Are you a complete idiot?” undertone whenever they speak.
I was shocked and hurt last night to hear that come out of my sweet child’s mouth…angry, superior, rude. Spouse and I both called him on it, and will continue to do so as respect is the first rule around here. I know it’s the natural order of things, a developmental phase, part of them becoming adults. I don’t, however, have to tolerate it. I do need to develop a thicker skin, a new type of humility. They’re growing up. We’ve worked hard to help them reach this place. We will continue to guide, to reinforce rules, to require respect and responsibility. But we humbly begin to take a backseat. Personally, I’d rather have the toddler phase back. (Never, ever thought I’d say those words out loud).