I was hugging those boys today, and thinking how proud I am of them. They have lives so different from what I had thought they might have, so different from my own, with challenges I never imagined when I was young. They come through with the grace and dignity and strength that takes my breath away sometimes.
My grandfathers and grandmothers never knew my boys. That seems somehow really strange. My last grandparent died two and a half years before Joey was born. Pop Conway would be proud of my boys. I do my best to make them all proud. They show respect to other people as they can (hey, they are only 7 and 9)- please and thank you and bright smiles go a long way in a world where they seem to be fading from general use, especially in young children. Joey is smart and sweet and ready to help his friends and please his teachers. Andy cares for his brother, loves animals and gardens and light sabers, always ready to include new friends. People remember my boys when they meet them, they have presence and character. There are skills that come from parenting, which combine with solid character and personality to create good little people.
We work on those challenges of growing up together. We work on the hiccups and potholes and trips and falls.
Andy wanted a snack at bedtime, and was told that wasn't appropriate. He had eaten dinner, and hadn't asked for more, only an hour before. He was actually hungry, and not just bored and trying to prolong bedtime, and blew up. What other stresses were in play? He went upstairs dutifully, but with his mouth going.
"I hate Mommy!" we heard quite clearly downstairs, as we prepared to go up. He was instantly recalled, and affirmed that he meant this, and was sent back upstairs with no prospect of a bedtime story.
He figured out really quickly that he was in trouble. Bath was done in record time. There wasn't a peep from that room until Joey was done his own bath, then a little boy creeping to the top of the stairs.
"What do you need, Andy?" JoeyAndyDad stopped the little feet coming down.
"I want to hug you," came the little voice.
Dad put an apple in his pocket and headed up to have a chat.
"Your Mommy loves you. That really hurt her feelings," I heard, and waited. There were tears, remorse, grief. Down he came to tell me he loved me and get hugs and kisses. I told him I loved him and gave him all the hugs and kisses he wanted. Back up he went.
"Did you tell her you were sorry?"
"Get your bottom back down there!" JoeyAndyDad ordered in a loving, almost teasing tone. Down he came again.
"I'm sorry I said I hated you," he said in a small, teary voice. I hugged him more, kissed him.
"I know. You'll learn soon to only say things you mean," I assured him. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
And up went that little man, just a little more grown up.