Parenting a kid during the school years is like throwing pasta at your wall: you just have to take a big step back and see what sticks.
Except the pasta is your advice, the wall is your child and what sticks is a result that has real-life consequences—positive or negative.
My son has been involved a few difficult social situations in various ways lately. From a physical altercation of which he was on the receiving end to a moment where I wish he would have spoken up instead of staying quiet. I know he is trying to navigate his new adventures as best he can, and I am here to support and help him.
I’m notoriously brutally honest with my children. I have had to add disclaimers to many of my chats: “I am telling you this because you deserve the truth, but this is a home conversation. Not everyone knows babies come out of vaginas.” (You get the picture.)
Enter the topics of bullies, fights, arguments and conflict resolution. I stick to my normal brutal honesty. Often, I feel like he tunes me out and I am unsure how much is getting through to him. Pasta, meet wall.
Then you have little moments of unadulterated joy as a parent, where you learn, from a third party, that yes, your pasta has stuck to the wall! My husband and I received and email from my son’s teacher. He explained how our son resolved a conflict that he wasn’t involved in. He noticed a classmate crying before recess. He approached that classmate, asking what was wrong. When he found out there was an issue with another student, he brought the first classmate over, and talked through the problem with the second classmate. The issue was entirely resolved verbally before they made it outside to recess.
Can an entire coffee house see your heart swell so big it nearly bursts? If so, I gave quite a show when I read that email. Every piece of pasta I threw at the wall stuck. It stuck! It didn’t slide down, it didn’t bounce off. It stayed there, ready to use as tool when he needed it next.
Maybe he heard my voice in his head. Maybe he didn’t and it was just a first nature kind of reaction. Maybe all of his parents’ chats ingrained themselves so deeply into his very being that he just reacted this way without thinking. I am not sure.
I probably will never know, although it is tempting for me to debrief him. Details are not something he likes to breakdown endlessly for hours. I on the other hand, love to do that.
As parents, this is our job. To throw the pasta, close one eye and hope it sticks, as we inch away, slowly, holding our breath. This time, I get one long satisfying exhale. Until I need to throw the next batch of pasta.