Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Little Buggie and His Pencils

I cried today. Hard. One of those ugly cries that comes from the gut...
I once read a quote, I don't remember who said it but I experienced it today.. The quote said something to the effect that when you have children, you basically pull your heart out of your chest and let it walk around. When I first read it, I thought about how critical the heart is to the body, how intimate the relationship between mother and child...
But today shed new light on that quote. When your heart is walking around - people can wound it. They can hurt it and say mean things to it and cause it pain. And I saw my son in pain today. And it shattered me for a moment. I was completely broken by the fact that my son was experiencing discomfort. I long for him to be spared the harshness of those experiences that seem to occur almost daily at schools around the country; the bullying, the teasing, the super-high expectations placed on the kids...
Nathan has begun to feel like he fails more than he succeeds. This is coming from a boy with almost perfect grades who is sooooo smart and so well liked by his peers. Nevertheless, he is experiencing doubt and fear. He doesn't always succeed. He's failed some quizzes and he's had his recess taken away on more than a few occasions...
I know that these experiences are meant to help him grow to deal with failure in life, to teach him time management and responsibility. But he is so fantastic! I don't want his focus to be on the negative. This pessimism has begun to encompass his entire outlook on life - on his sisters, on his lot in life, his abilities and his own worth.
Today this discomfort manifested itself with a simple assignment that was given to help the kids learn about profit and loss. They were each supposed to set up a store. They could either buy their merchandise - spending no more than $3 dollars, or they could bring things from home - homemade items or old toys, but they had to all be valued at $3. Nathan wanted to sell pencils. And he wanted cool pencils.
I could not, for the life of me, find cool pencils in bulk for less than $3.... And so I planned a trip to Michaels after work yesterday. And then I totally forgot. I came home without pencils. And by the time I remembered, it was too late. I was absolutely heartbroken. Nathan was so disappointed that he would only have 6 pencils (the most I could get from Staples for $3.) and that he was "a one man stand". (That phrase broke my heart)
Apparently, some of the other children had buddied up and made mega-stores by pooling their resources. There was nothing about this practice mentioned in the literature that came from school.
So, in the end, I ran to the dollar store and waited until 8am when they opened and got some pencils - $3 worth - 20 in all and dropped them off to him. Then I went to work where I stressed all day and called Nathan the minute his dad picked him up. Come to find out, he had a great time - sold all his pencils and made a profit. :)
I was proud of him. Proud of him for being willing to stand at his little "one man store" and sell his 6 pencils... Even though he was disappointed and a little ashamed of his meager lot... Because Nathan was at music when I dropped off the pencils, I had a chance to talk to his teacher a little. I mentioned that I was bringing more pencils and his teacher said, "Oh good because he came to me this morning and said, 'This is all I have' (meaning his six pencils)" I can just see him standing there looking dejectedly at the amount of things he'd be able to sell compared to the dozens that his classmates had... Again, broken heart... I teared up in the classroom because of his disappointment.... I had to excuse myself and get out of there.
I have no idea why, but even typing this story, my heart gets all balled up and the tears start to flow... I just get so emotional about my little boy.
In the end, he had a great day and the store was successful. But I think I'll be affected for a long time when I think about the pencil store.

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