Soft Chewy Center

He is so soft.

My dear dear little Pickle.

We work, as parents, to make them ready for the big world.  The hard world.  The cruelty, the randomness.  We work to build them up, so that they can face the challenges, the heartbreak.  And we hope that the shell we help to build is hard enough to protect the soft insides, but thin enough that the light can still get in.

His teachers told me so.  They confirmed what I already knew.  He was young, so young, too young to be truly empathetic. But he was.  He is.  He had been playing with a toy, the toy had fallen out of his hand, hit another child and made the child cry.  It was minor, and an accident.  But Pickle spent the rest of the day checking in occasionally, giving hugs, rubbing his friend’s back, trying to make it better, worrying. His teachers were amazed.

He is so focused on being good.  On being good to people.  On being a good boy.  He is already too hard on himself.  I know it too well.  I ache for him when I see that part of me in him.

Tonight, he had a rough time, a tough night.  Perhaps it was the way the stars are aligned, or something in his own rhythms that are off, but he had a toddler meltdown.  He is a toddler.  He isn’t yet two and a half; I need a reminder of that sometimes. He couldn’t bear the thought of changing clothes, so he wailed and fought and whined and cried. When he finally settled, we curled up on the couch together in the glow of the light-up-pumpkins in the the bay window.  I said, “Pickle, you had a bit of a hard time tonight, you were sad and mad, huh?” He responded, “Yeah, Mama.  I sorry.  I sorry for me.”  Oh Pickle, I thought, please don’t ever apologize for you –  for your sadness, your madness, your feeling.  You are not a bad boy, you are allowed to be you, and we love all of you.

“It is okay,” I told him, “It is okay to be sad.  It is okay to be mad. Sometimes I get sad and mad.  Sometimes Dad gets sad and mad, too.”  He looked up at me, eyes wide, to confirm.

Dad walked downstairs, and came over to us to sit, be cozy and chat.

“Dada? You get sad sometimes too?” he asked.

“I do. I do get sad sometimes,” his Dad confirmed.  And Pickle seemed comforted by this.

My sweet boy, it can be rough growing up as a sensitive boy in a world where sensitivity feels like a weakness, until you are much much older.  But we will try to help you be confident, feel secure, know you are so very loved.  Because, just yesterday you told me, “I like myself.”  And I hope you always will.

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