I don’t know about you but if your parenting calendar constantly revolves around school project deadlines then we for sure have something in common! My son, my love, my hero, the apple of my eyes had a deadline for what is now my first nightmare (AR) or (Accelerated Reading).
Now… I have two completely opposite kids… one who LOVES and adores reading, a book worm who enjoys going beyond the goals set for her, and another…well …. who doesn’t! He hates reading with a passion! He would do anything and everything to avoid reading a book, he literally masters the art of blocking information as soon as he starts flipping through the pages of any book. Let alone the fact that he has to read to test his knowledge in this book seeking to attain a goal. If it wasn’t something that has to do with math or science, then it is just the beginning of another thread in ruining the beautiful mother son relation we have, because it will entail everything that revolves around stress, stress and more stress!
Zein signs up for every single activity available through his school, and it makes my heart super happy every time he comes home with a flyer saying: mama I want to join so and so! After all he is my cancer son! the son whom they once told me will not survive, will not go to school and will die at a very young age! (Yup true story, they used the word die several times, but that’s a blog post for another day)…So the fact that he is back to school, and not just that but actually having some sort of a normal life serves as my daily fresh reminder to always “cut him some slack”! But I have to admit, the day he came back signing up in (BOB- Battle of the Books) was the day my heart sank and I was seriously considering changing his values from never ever giving up, to it is really ok to quit sometimes son! But I didn’t!! I cut him some slack and said: YES! Let him sign up and do whatever he wants! If I can support him in AR, I can support him in BOB!
He brought home the books, I read it with him, reviewed it through Q and A and yet he still failed the exams the next day! We got another BOB book – scores points for both AR and BOB , WIN WIN- took us 4 days to read it, review it, digest it, tell the story and prepare him for the exam, for him to go to school the next day and…. Wait for it!!!!! Discovers that he already tested in it and passed a month ago!!!! My jaw dropped! We have been reading this book for 4 days! 4 days of my life, of my sanity, of missing break time, of not going out of the house, of absolute boot camp to read a book that you already read AND TESTED in before!!!! I mean…. Ok ok! Cut him some slack!
Long story short after a few new grey hairs, newly developed ulcers in my gut, my husband taking a leave from work for a day and going to his school, because …well my sanity was on the line here! Zein made his goal! He made it literally one hour before the deadline time designated to him, he missed recess and lunch, he went through so many books trying to make these last two darn points to reach his goals. Each book was worth half a point, the pattern was passing one exam and failing two so watching his score go up 0.3 points at a time was as stressful as watching the close race in the last presidential election! It took every ounce of health in me to remain calm until the glorious moment of seeing the damn number (17) on the screen! He did it! he reached his goal and now is a proud winner of completing his 17 points goal for AR! He will get the fun pasta lunch at school with the rest of his winning peers and will not be left out with the rest of the kids who didn’t make their goal!
We cheered, celebrated, took pictures with the winning pasta and lectured him about how he shouldn’t leave things till the last minute, and how hard work pays off bla bla bla, the kid seriously got immune from how much parenting he gets at times!
But what about me? What about the fact that I actually have to sit read books with him while all I want in my life after their homework is done is some me time? What about the constant guilt feeling that I am living? Am I pushing my cancer kid so far? Isn’t it enough he is alive? Who cares about his grades? Or am I not motivating him enough? Am I not communicating right? Am I stressing him out? Until I decided the only slack I need to cut now is some for myself!
Parenting is a challenge! Let alone parenting a kid with a terminal disease. So my son has terminal cancer, he beat it twice, still dealing with the after math, we have been through hell and back with him, he is a walking, talking, breathing miracle! And our story has way more to it that I am literally writing a book about it. But what does that mean?
- It doesn’t mean I can’t parent him! It does mean that I can’t allow cancer to define his academic achievements! It does mean that I will always strive to push through the disabilities, move on after cancer and accept the new(er) normal. It means that sometimes I will not cut him some slack and will push him for his own good.
- It also means that in spite of pushing hard, motivating him, encouraging him and not cutting him some slack… he will still not be like other kids all the time, he will always have this cancer umbrella shadowing over his head in some form or another! If it wasn’t for the physical disabilities that we can see affecting him, it will be for what he mentally and emotionally went through, and I will always cut him some slack for this!
- It means that not all kids are the same and there is no one mold where all successful kids fit in! Some read, some gaze, some imagine, some create and some take forever to pass a test in one annoying picture book! Ughhh. I will embrace the successes as we go, derive the positive energy from him, let him try different things until we can direct it towards his avenue of interest.
- It means I am doing just fine! That I need to cut myself some slack sometimes and just breathe! That if I did everything in my power to parent him, coach him, guide him, encourage him and he still didn’t pass… I should suck it up and accept seeing him learn differently. Mom and dad are not going to be here to fix it all the time, and it is ok to learn the hard way sometime.
- It means that it is not worth our relationship! It really isn’t! if this pasta lunch and AR goal is going to cost us our mother-son relationship, then seriously it is not worth it! Not the screaming, the fighting and the endless stressing! I love him more than pasta I know that for sure!
- It means that cutting slack is another constant game of finding balance, when to cut it and how? Why to cut it and to what extent? Not accepting failure as an option while in the same time trying to reach it with less stress.
So next time you see a happy picture like this one of a parent and a kid with their prize, know that social media just shows us the end result, yet there is always a story behind it. Now let’s take a moment and be thankful for picture filters that took care of all the stress lines, dark circles and pale skin I had that day! #thankfulJ