Friday, September 23, 2011

83 Months

So Lucas has started the second grade, somehow making it through grade number one in one piece. I know it sounds strange to be presenting it in such a way but we had some difficulties last year that tested our patience and aspirations for our first child.

Lucas is the type of child who faces difficulties in such a way that he can manage them but really would rather not. If something is challenging he has a tendency to get frustrated and want to disappear but as long as he perseveres, then the outcome most likely comes out on the sunny side of average. Yet, if he has the opportunity to avoid the challenge and get away with it, then that will be his primary choice in most situations. He likes to feel comfortable, to enjoy himself and indulge in the activities in life that bring a smile on his face. I don't blame him because who doesn't want to have a life with those type of outcomes, but when it comes to building character and developing into a dynamic human being that has the ability to face anything that this life can throw our way, then we must challenge ourselves.

Lucas still doesn't quite understand that concept. So, last year, when he was under the tutelage of a demanding teacher along with high quality peers that elevated the learning environment, he had to face situations that were outside his comfort zone more often than he'd ever previously been accustomed. He reacted with bouts of morose behavior that we have yet to see from our little guy. It was awkward and frustrating and sad, not just for him but for Christina and me, as well.

One of the defense mechanisms that he's learned over the past few years is to shut down and not express himself fully when he's struggling. It's something that we've really had to face over the past year as he often would come home sullen and snappy without any explanation at all. I believe that this habit of quiet defiance quickly develops in the school yard, especially when one is surrounded by peers with strong personalities who have developed abnormal competitive genes during this young blossoming time. Last year, Lucas came face to face with one of these personalities and it grew into his first ugly school yard incident.

Even though Lucas can shut down, we've also been very adamant with him that he has the right to express his opinion on any subject with us and others. It's important for him to learn to communicate with anyone in life, even those who he finds difficult. So, even though Lucas can be quiet at times, when he's in the proper mood he really has no problem telling people exactly how he feels. It's one of the great quandaries of life. When do we stand up to remain true to our genuine expression that defines our unique individual humanity and how do we express it in such a way that our message has the ability to touch people in positive ways? That's the goal that we have for him and the first step is allowing him to truly express himself now with confidence, especially when he's at age where he doesn't have a massive understanding of the world. But it's a habit that will eventually grow into a powerful force if we nurture it in the right way.

Well, I guess he didn't have a problem expressing himself with this other child in his class and it simmered into something that we needed to bring to the attention of the authorities at his school, his teacher and principal. I didn't have an issue coming to the school with this because my first response when it comes to my children is that I'm going to protect them no matter what and Lucas's behavior was definitely something of concern. But when it came time for him to stand up and defend his side the story, his anger and confidence with the situation dwindled into meekness. I was disappointed because I was emotionally invested and I felt that Lucas has manipulated me a little bit, but then I realized that it was simply a really difficult challenge that he was dealing with and that he was on an even bigger emotional roller-coaster ride than me.

One of the great challenges any human must face is how they are honest with themselves regarding the way that they face the world. If we are not honest with ourselves then we will never be honest with others. This is a tremendous challenge that has come to define Lucas after almost seven years. Christina is extremely motivating with how she handles these dilemmas of integrity that rise up with our son. Her message is always about how you lose yourself when you are not honest. When you start lying during challenging situations so that you don't get punished or because you are trying to hide from some ominous outcome, then you begin to lose connection to yourself. You go down a path where you may discover one day in the future that you don't know who you are anymore. That place is hell and no one, no god put you there. You chose to go down that desperate road yourself.

This is a vital message for children to learn and I am so glad that I have a companion who is so tuned in to its awareness that she can communicate it so effectively. It's something that both of my children must understand if they want to get anywhere in life. It's something that I had extreme difficulty dealing with when I was a child and it affected me dramatically when I became an adult. It took many years for me to reach a place where I truly felt healthy again. This incident that came up with Lucas and that we all had to face really raised some new challenges for us but we really came through the dank tunnel to view things with a new light. Lucas seems to be smiling more and believing in himself more. He's told me quite often this first month how much he likes his new class and how happy he is with his school mates. Of course, part of the reason for all of that is because his new teacher is so "easy" and he's really glad that the troublesome child from last year is no longer in his class.

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