Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Unseen Worth

Let me start off by saying that I am very tired.  Not in a "I sure could use a nap kind of way", but true exhaustion.  The kind of blinding weariness that can only come with too much hope deffered.  Don't get me wrong, I have never believed that I am living a fairy tale and that a simple clicking of heels can get me out of this predicament called life.  But, after nearly 40 years of existing and observing, I currently find myself frustrated.  I could go on a tirade about how modern living has created a bunch of sociopaths that whine if they don't get their way.  "I really need a job with more hours making more money, so that I can buy all the things that I deserve" But, then whine even louder when they do get their way. " I hate my job and hate that I have to go to work AGAIN today."  Thankfully, I don't feel like going off on that particular tirade, at the moment.  The masses have been spared my sad little commentary.

 Today, my tirade is about myself. I once again find myself dealing with the aftermath of a less than stellar parenting moment.  The details are sad. But, the real sadness lies in their repetitive nature.  On the surface, it seems to come down to me having to face the reality that my 14 year old son doesn't seem to value education.  He seems caught up in a world of his own making, where Minecraft servers and imaginary Skype friends trump real life. Who is to blame for this? That's a rhetorical question, because I know that I am.

Even as I write this, I know that Minecraft is not the problem. He has always viewed education as something to be endured, something that was created to point out how stupid or less than he is.  Actually, he hasn't always felt this way.  I remember him running or at least walking on his own free will into kindergarten eager to see what the day had in store.  It wasn't long though, until his teacher sat me down and began to explain that he wasn't getting 'it'. She encouraged me to hold him back.  She was the first of many professionals to point out that something wasn't right.  I could share the details of the next decade of both our lives, but I don't think I have the strength to relive that kind of pain again.  Just know that many years later, I have a young man who doesn't know is own value and worth.  I have tried so hard to let him know how amazing he is.  But, I am flawed and every time I have come across a proud parent bragging about how smart their child is because they are writing novellas in the third grade or teaching themselves Chinese, I find it a little harder to convince him and myself that he is 'amazing'. These proud parents have never gone away and thanks to social media I am inundated with them much more often than my psyche can handle.  I understand that they mean no harm and want to give their kids their due or accolades for jobs well done.  But, it has made it nearly impossible for this parent to keep looking at her son and see someone of value.  Oh, I know he has value.  He has a kind heart and a quick whit.  He doesn't care about outside appearances and can spot BS a mile away.  He is wise beyond his years and has a beautiful old soul.  But, I don't 'see' his value, because in the world's eyes he has none.  He has had to fight for every ounce of success that he has had.  And, his success hasn't been measured in how fast he can read, but the fact that he can. Nor can it be measured in spelling bees or poetry contests or dean's lists.  His success is that he can now quietly blend in the background, so that no teacher will again approach his mother and say something is wrong. I am so proud of all his accomplishments.  We both fought so hard for every single one.  But, I can't brag about them.  No, on a good day I get to hide them so that no one sees his flaws or what him and I refer to as his successes.

My son knows he has no value in the world's eyes.  He knows his parents have nothing to brag about.  He hides his hurt and his own reality with the grace and dignity of someone many times his age.  In actuality, he has become so gifted in this deception that I rarely see his pain.  So rare is my glimpse that I too begin to compare him to all the people with visible value out there and see how short he comes up.  I forget about all his hard won successes and tear into him hoping to pull out something that the world can value.  He quietly takes it never voicing an ounce of emotion.  So, I press even harder.  Hoping, that this will finally be the moment when he becomes like everyone else.  I am relentless and cold in my battle for his worth.  Then when it is too late to stop or fix it, I see his brokenness and hurt staring at me.  I see in his eyes sadness and shame. He knows his lack has, once again, been exposed to the one person that was supposed to protect and encourage him, the same person that fought so hard with him for all he has managed to accomplish. The raw pain staring at me rips through my chest and I know that I can't fix what I have done.  I can only give him the space to once again put back on his mask of indifference.

So today if I seem a little tired, it's because I am.