My son listens to himself ~ he let his hair grow long and happy during the Spring ~ as he was feeling wild and free. It was perfect for him. Shaggy and free-spirited. I was secretly skeptical at first, but soon, I loved it as much as he. (as the sun beat down for summer, we trimmed it off, though)
His voice is louder than my own. I ask him to ‘bring it down a notch’ at times, but I’ve come to understand that this is who he is. I think it will help shape who he is meant to become. He’s spirited and active, needing to have his muscles moving and action happening. He’s kind and sweet, happy and outgoing. He loves to sing. He sings a lot. He loves to have his voice heard.
When I was his age, seven years old, my mom was a teacher’s aid ~ and she helped instruct a little girl who was hyperactive. So often, after a work day, my mom would tell us how frustrating this child was at school. How hyper and out of control. How obnoxious. Her name became well known around our house. Teresa Terwiliger. When I was on a roll as a young child, with my loud voice and my active body, my mom would scold: “you are acting like Teresa Terwiliger!” She meant no harm, I’m certain, but the impact was that I knew “how” I was seen. And because I was young, it had to be true.
It wasn’t until later and most recently when I was talking with my kind friend, Liz, about why I let my son “be himself”, that it occurred to me how impactful those comments may have been to my small heart. Could that be why, 30 years later (almost), the statement of “who I was acting like” still rings in my ears? How it has affected me, I’m not quite certain yet. Whether it has touched my self-esteem or my urge/ability to be myself, I’m not quite sure.
Personally, I have become confident, shy a bit, but capable of great feats of transparency and guts (like posting this story). The act of creating art from the heart and putting it out into the world requires a willingness to be transparent and confident. And I believe that who I am was sprouting in my younger soul. Quite possibly those innocent statements triggered by my frustrating hyperactivity had no lasting impact at all. Possibly. But I’m not willing to take the chance with my son.
He remains outspoken, but respectful and generous, and with other adults I sometimes raise my hands and say “well, that’s who he is. He’s loud.” Am I doing the right thing? I’m not quite certain.
I try not to squelch my boy, and I frequently but not always succeed at this. It is fun to ponder the immense possibilities for expression and creation growing, un-labeled and un-judged, within his fresh young soul.
above image: In Your Eyes ~ click for link to purchase prints in the Online Studio Shop
What are your thoughts on over-managing and labeling our children’s behavior? Can we ever feel confident that we are doing the right thing(s)?
Take care, love & sincerely,