The saying goes that the apple doesn't fall to far from the tree. In my case, my middle son not only looks like me, but apparently, suffers from the same "what-if's" that have afflicted his mother her entire life.
The older boys have been attending Vacation Bible School at the church where Joshua attends school throughout the year. This has been a long standing tradition each summer and it allows me a little alone time with Joshua while they are gone. Yesterday was the first day and it will continue for the remainder of the week. Although the theme is High Seas Expedition, it was not all smooth sailing today for Andrew.
It seems that amongst the many activities that the children participate in during the few hours they are there, singing and dancing is one of Andrew's least favorite. And apparently, it was enough to send him over the edge and to tears.
When I went to pick them up, Andrew's leader pulled me aside and told me he had gotten very upset, but couldn't really tell me why. I was concerned. Andrew is all about the drama at home, but he puts up a good front when he is away from home. I decided against talking to him right away, and opted to speak to him before he went to bed.
Of my three sons, Andrew is the most sentimental. He is very hard on himself and tries not to disappoint his father and I if he can help it. That is not to say that the desire to please his parents deters him from arguing with his brothers, but he is easily embarrassed if he thinks that he has not done his best at school or in extra-curricular activities.
Andrew is also incredibly self conscious. He likes to goof around, but he does not like to be the center of attention. Particularly if he thinks he is not good at something. And apparently, he doesn't think he is good at singing and dancing to a VBS song and dance DVD.
When I sat to talk with him, I told him the story of a little girl who always thought she was dumb, didn't think she could do anything right, and all too often, that worry about doing the wrong thing took the joy out of just about everything, along with her self esteem. I explained that even though this little girl wasn't necessarily dumb when dealing with math and science, her intense worry and dislike for those things MADE her perform poorly. Andrew listened intently with wide eyes. Then, the big reveal. That little girl was none other than Mommy.
"Mommy, you worried about stuff, too?" asked my little boy.
"I still worry, but not so much. I try to do the best I can, and it has to be enough. That is all that I can do," I replied.
He seemed to ponder this point for a moment. Then he asked, "But what if they laugh at me?"
"Then you have two options, sugar. You can either feel awful because someone is laughing, or you can join them. And I guarantee you that if you laugh, you will feel better," I said.
We talked a little more. It seemed as though my little boy was holding a lot inside. And I was grateful for the opportunity to let him unload all that worry.
He worries that he is not good at certain things. He worries what people think. I wonder how much worry is genetically linked. Because my heart broke listening to my little boy. Because I felt as though I was talking to a much younger version of myself. And I wondered if I can help him overcome this anxiety, before it consumes the best years of his life, like it did me.
After a few pointers of what to do when he got nervous, he smiled and snuggled as we talked about all the things he is good at. And how much I love him. And how proud his father and I are of him, simply because he is our son, and he never disappoints us.
My little boy beamed.
Today, as he walked into the church with his still small hand tightly enclosing my own, he seemed to walk with a renewed purpose. He seemed to be okay.
When I went to pick him up, he still hadn't danced and sung, but he seemed okay with it. He smiled when he said goodbye to his group and his teacher. No tears. No worries.
But I know better.
The self doubts will linger, but hopefully, not forever. He will find self solace in his own way, in his own time.
And I will be there.
To hold his hand, to offer support, to help him in any way I can.
Because I am helping my son grow some mighty strong roots that will hold him upright throughout his life.
And because I want him to spread his wings and soar as I never did when I was younger, but am so desperately trying to do now.
I know him.
He is my own apple from my tree.