Being a mother of two boys, I often think about the qualities I want to see develop in them as they grow up. I do a lot of teaching and modeling based on these certain qualities as probably all parents do.
For example, I choose curiosity over knowledge. I choose perseverance over talent. Faith over intelligence. Kindness over strength. Compassion over wealth or power.
It’s hard being the mother of boys and having these qualities as my priorities. Almost everything in our world tells boys and men that they should be strong. They should be intelligent and powerful. If not, they are weak. They are lesser somehow. There is a lot of bad media out there for girls. But there is a lot of uplifting, empowering media for girls too. There is a movement of sorts and it is getting a lot of attention. Little boys don’t have this. They are inundated with superheroes and power and strength. And there is no movement that tells them it is ok to be kind and compassionate too. Men are portrayed as strong or dumb. That is pretty much it.
But I try to teach them even at 4 and 2 years old that kindness, compassion, faith, and all of these qualities will make them stronger men in the long run. Look at Jesus, after all. He may have been considered weak in the sense that he refused to fight physically. He offered kindness and compassion to all he encountered. He turned the world upside down. That’s what I’d like to do for my sons too.
What is a strong man, really? I’d argue it is not the one who exerts his power at every chance. It’s not the one to which everything comes easily.
I do think it’s possible to have both. Just look at my boys’ father. He has curiosity and knowledge. Perseverance and talent. Faith and intelligence. Kindness and strength. But still I would say as I interact with my sons each day, I hope to see the former in each pair.
All this is just a preface to the fact that my son made me a necklace today. He actually made quite a few necklaces.
Yesterday at his art class, the teacher had a bunch of beads laying out with string so the kids could practice those fine motor skills and have a fun keepsake to take home. Elias loved his necklace. However, during quiet time, he proceeded to take all of the beads back off and completely unravel/fray the string. He didn’t quite understand why we couldn’t put them back on.
Today while Elias was at school, I went to the store to buy some appropriate string. While we were there, I decided to purchase some beads as well since he loved the activity and I am always looking for rainy day fun.
When I picked him up from school, I told him that I had bought the string and the beads and that he could make his necklace when we got home. The only thing I said was that he could make necklaces for other people too if he wanted. I think I suggested Ama and Nana and said he could even give them to friends if he wanted. I didn’t coach him any more than that.
When it was time for necklaces making, Elias excitedly sat down, chose his beads and his string, and announced that he was going to make a necklace for his Ama. He carefully chose each bead, and made me try it on to make sure it could fit. When it was finished, he rushed in to choose more beads. This time he announced he would make one for great-grandma. He made a special pattern of stars for her.
Next, he choose the bowl of beads with letters on them and told me he was going to make a necklace for me. At first he looked through the beads and said he would make me a pattern too. Then he looked around some more and picked just two beads. I thought he had gotten tired of the activity and I was getting the short end of the stick for being the last necklace created. However, he strung those two beads, held it up to me and said, “Here Mommy! E for Elias and S for Simon!”
This just touched my heart so much. Not only did he create a gift for me, but he created one with meaning. A gift from his heart. It tells me that despite all of the things I do wrong as a mother, some good is getting through too. I’m not sure why this necklace illustrates this so strongly for me. It just does. I am going to treasure it for…well probably forever. And if you see me sporting a piece of string with two beads, now you’ll know why.