Me: Good morning, Hank.
Me: How did you sleep?
Hank: (stretching like a cat) So well I didn’t want to get out of bed.
Me: That is the best and worst kind of sleep.
Hank: Isn’t it?
Me: Are you ready for your day?
Hank: No. I mean, I have my backpack packed and I’m dressed, but I’m not ready, you know?
Me: I hear you. Life is hard.
Me: No, I mean it. I was up late into the night trying to remember if I ever properly explained to you that life is hard.
Hank: I know.
Me: But do you? Nothing in life ever came easily to me. I do not remember ever being just naturally good at something, ever. Everything took work. Even now, especially now.
Me: I spent most of my young life confused, because reading and writing were so hard for me and for other kids it seemed they could just do it, and math, too. It was never easy for me to make friends. I had a few good friends, but over all the majority of kids in my class and at my schools had a rather low opinion of me and liked to tell me my flaws as if it wasn’t obvious I wasn’t aware of them myself. It took a rather long time from my personality to progress from obnoxious to funny and I was awkwardly experimental in finding my style and finding myself beautiful. Being a mom was the hardest thing I have ever done and I am still learning from my mistakes, even ten years later, to be your and Molly’s best mother. I’ve had to work harder than anyone I know to achieve any goal to my minimal satisfaction since first grade and that, at times, has made me feel extremely alone, but I never gave up and I never surrendered.
Me: I know you are bummed about your low grade on your Portuguese test, but I promise you: your teachers, your papa and I, we are here and we support you. If you trust us we will help you and encourage you to do better. If your doing your best, your best is enough and that includes learning that what you thought was your best could be improved.
Hank: That hurts my feelings. I thought I did my best, but I didn’t.
Me: I know it does. Life isn’t easy, but it is always worth it. To achieve your school goals you will have to work harder especially when it isn’t easy and especially when your feelings are hurt, but if you put in the work now hard work won’t intimidate you further down the road.
Me: No one says this to kids. Adults lecture and advise and hug, but they rarely explain. It will take time, it will feel like forever and it will be work, but if you have a goal and you achieve it then the pride you feel will be worth the effort. Plus, that is why there are chocolates and bike rides and video games in the world. You can’t deny yourself the good; the good makes the work worth it.
Hank: When I sit down to take a test I just want it to be over. I am so worried that I won’t finish that I rush and papa told me that is where I make mistakes. I just wish there were no clocks and we had our own time.
Me: I am listening, You have precious little of your own time in life. You have your school time, then your homework time, then your responsibility time such as cleaning and hygiene, then you have family time which is great, but can be stressful and only after do you have the illusive, me time. We will talk with your teacher and find a better way to help you manage the stress of the time clock. If you are your enemy then you have the power to win the fight.
Hank: (deep sigh)
Me: It is not easy to be ten.
Hank: It really isn’t.
Me: Ten is where you’re given responsibilities and begin to taste #adulting.
Hank: I hate it, I don’t want to grow up, but I also want my own apartment someday and I want to go to cafés and drink coffee and meet friends and have dinner parties and decorate and get my drivers license and got to university for something and I want to be good at stuff.
Me: You don’t have to grow-up to do those things! You don’t have to lose who you are now or give something away for those things. You just have to commit to work for them. You can work hard toward those goals wearing a Totoro onesie while doing your homework with a bright green gel pen while deep conditioning your hair and singing Eurovision songs at the top of your lungs.
Hank: Mom, be serious!
Me: I AM! You got a poor grade on your Portuguese test because you made lazy mistakes, you didn’t read directions, you rushed and you were careless with your spelling. You didn’t fail, but you almost did. I think the title of this chapter of your memoir is called, HANK: Age 10 and The End of Laziness… Except on the Weekends Because That is What Weekends Are For.
Me: So thank you for letting me talk to you about this. I just wanted you to understand that everything you love about your life our family and our home and everything I love about my life and our family is the result of years of dedication and hard work. Nothing came easy, but I am rich with love and happiness and friends and knowledge and success and no one gave me these things, but me. I hold the power to achieve my goals and so do you! I invested in myself when it would have been far easier to never even try. Now it is your turn to invest in your self and your goals.
Me: Is this a helpful conversation or does this truth just stress you out?
Hank: (thinking) Helpful. (pause) Did things come easy for papa?
Me: That is his story to tell and you will have to ask him, but I believe everyone has a struggle, especially at ten years old, otherwise how would anyone appreciate the good things in life like sunsets and birthdays and lazy café afternoons and making their baby sister laugh or climbing on rocks at the seaside looking for tide pools.
Hank: That last one is my favorite.
Me: I know.
Hank: I miss my bed.
Me: Me, too.
Hank: I have to get going.
Me: I know, it’s time.
Hank: (deep, exhausted sigh)
Me: I am always here for you. You are not alone.
Hank: I know.