When our Bug was little, I wrote an article about not talking about your kids.
Not because it’s annoying to other people (alright, a little bit because of that). But mostly because our kids are people whose privacy should be respected.
Today, I was reminded why I wrote that article.
I still slip into the bad habit of talking about my kids. The other day, I even went so far as to talk about them in front of them.
It makes me cringe to think about it. Our oldest is smart and observant, and he listened as I compared and contrasted him with his brother.
How was he not going to notice? I’m ashamed of myself.
So today, I shouldn’t have been baffled when the Bug did his best to live up to the picture I had painted of him earlier in the week.
We were having a social-distanced get-together for ice cream with distant relatives, some of whom we’d never met.
Suddenly, our Bug was behaving totally uncharacteristically. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why.
When we got home, he was still behaving strangely. He looked up at me with his big beautiful eyes and said, “Mama, I’m shy.”
At first I was miffed. But then I remembered the conversation he had overheard earlier in the week.
That’s when I realized that his weird behavior was on me.
All he wanted to do was try and live up to the description he had overheard me give of him. He’s a sensitive and sweet boy; of course he wants to conform to what he thinks his mama wants from him.
So Zip Up, Mama.
It killed me to see my son try and fit himself into a mould I’d made for him. A mould that, though perhaps true in some ways and at some moments, was too simplistic to be accurate.
It’s the same lesson I keep thinking I’ve learned: Zip it, lady. Stop it. Just don’t talk about your kids.
But I can talk with my kids. And in the morning, I think the first thing I need to say to my son is, “I owe you an apology.”