Our son Addison is a brilliant boy. He’s 10 now and well on his way to becoming a rocket scientist. It’s astounding to observe him in his science lab class. That is the field, so to speak, where he shines the most. When I teach his math lessons (homeschool), he absorbs new concepts as if by osmosis. Before I can even finish my spiel, he takes pencil to paper. And did I mention how handsome he is? Long lashes and tan, muscular torso. Boy howdy!
This is what we are dealing with though, and dealing hard. Addison struggles to focus. His mind is going at light speed, exactly like Steve’s at that age. This is so not conducive to school work. I am both his mom and his teacher, so I constantly redirect. He bursts with ideas and random thoughts to share; while I try to finish the lesson. This tug of war exhausts me some days. Conversely, when our son is engaged in an activity he is passionate about, it’s like he is underwater. Everything but that one thing is tuned out. “Addison, dinner time. …Addison? Addi-SON!” It’s taken me a while to understand that he genuinely doesn’t hear.
The Making of a Man
Like all parents, Steve and I search out opportunities to mature him into the young man he is born to be. So we signed up for soccer again this season. There is no denying that sports are awesome for kids. They learn teamwork, perseverance, and sportsmanship. Plus, feeling confident with a ball is a lifelong tool for connecting. (We cannot state enough the value of empowering children in belonging.)
Addison’s attention challenges, along with the way he is rotated to different positions, make this a challenging soccer season. Plus, his growth has mellowed out and he no longer has the advantage of being the biggest boy. (To top it off, Florida in May already feels like Hell’s Front Porch.) As a parent, it’s spectacular to watch a son or daughter develop and succeed on the field. However, every ball in the face, every fumble, every loss — that too is felt in the parent section just as keenly. I wonder if it’s easier when your child is the star of the field, a born baller. I don’t know. Addison has heart and talent. For now, though, my heart clutches a little more often.
But We Have an Advocate
Yesterday morning in my quiet time, I read in 1 John these words that arrested me: “But we have an advocate.” Those words washed over me all day. I saw the way Jesus has stood in front of me my whole life, with a love that is complete. He stands in front of me even now. When I fail as a mom/wife/friend — whatever — the power of his love hits a reset button. He speaks up to me, calling me higher and shaping me with encouraging truth.
Friends, we are specially empowered by Jesus to fulfil this role in our families. Does that seem daunting? Regardless of the parenting model that we grew up with, I know this by personal experience: we can look to God for a more beautiful pattern. We all have an advocate who isn’t comparing us to our peers. We have an advocate who sees all our potential and how far we have come. In his eyes, our weaknesses never negate our strengths. He cheers us on, relentlessly.
Watch Your Mouth
The most valuable part of advocacy to me is that I speak up to my children. As a kid, I had my faults pointed out so often that it had the opposite effect. I began to believe that was all I could be. Similarly, it absolutely guts me to overhear a parent complaining about their kids or addressing them as if they’re a painful inconvenience. Don’t we understand how that filth saturates our lifelong relationship to them?
Now that I am the parent, I speak to my kids with the hope and faith by which Jesus addresses me. I employ humor, patience, and kindness. I do my level best to convey my belief they can and will improve; also, that they are not on their own in the effort. Our words to our children convey their value and potential. In our home, we pick them with care.
We have 3 more weeks of lessons together before 5th grade is over. This summer, Addison has surfing lessons and a week of outdoor adventure camp. He signed up as webmaster for his Boy Scout troop. Some of these things are definitely right up his alley, while others challenge and stretch his capabilities. He may frustrate some teammates, a coach, or even himself, but he will flourish nevertheless — because he has multiple advocates. When he is in tears, we remind him of all he does well. Days he is overwhelmed, we remind him of his victories. If he is being cocky, we wait for natural consequences to transform him.
No matter how this soccer season ends, or next season shapes up, no matter how many times in one school day Addison’s brain does loop de loops, I know this: I am equipped to be his advocate, alongside his dad. We can do this relentlessly because Jesus is doing it for us, day in and day out.