To honor my son is to give him what he needs. It means knowing that swinging on his swing for an hour fills a need but the request for a movie at ten in the morning is only a request for engagement. As Alder grows I learn more about being his Mama. Mainly Alder needs me near by, with in shouting distance while he creates his worlds. He needs to know that I will build three towers with him, but not eight. I am learning that not all of his wants are needs, that I maybe giving him more when I say “No you can’t watch a movie, but I’ll push you on the swing”
I know that he needs to be outside for hours every day. Digging in the sand pile, visiting the neighbor’s chicken or just sitting there watching the trees. Outside brings stillness to him, on rainy days when we are stuck inside his entire being is in movement. A break in the rain and hail means an open door and a small bottom in the sand. When the sun comes out we venture out because his soul needs it.
I also honor him by giving him limits, the same ones that we give ourselves. These limits let him know that we care for him. None of them are arbitrary they are all there for our safety and sanity. We clean up after ourselves (this one needs work on by all of us), we never leave anything on the floor in the kitchen, and others. These limits are there because they are ones that we expect from everyone in the house. I see this working when he reminds me of some of these things and why they should be done.
To honor him means that I do what I can to help him to be himself fully. I watch him to see what makes him happy and peaceful and follow these things. This may mean introducing a new game or knowing the right time to announce story time (which leads to bedtime).We never force him to bed but have made it a welcoming part of the day, where we read stories and talk about the world we see outside his window in the fading light.
To honor him also means to help him grow to give him meals full of food that are good for him but also ones that he likes. If he doesn’t like what we have made, after trying he is always welcome to a bowl of yogurt or some fruit. If he is not hungry he does not have to eat, he does have to sit with us a little and be part of the family. I am learning that the more he is involved with the making of the meals the more foods he is willing to eat. Some nights this is impossible but usually there is something that he can cut or measure with me.
But why should I honor my son? Why should I go beyond loving him and doing what I feel is best for him? I honor him because he is another human, one who I spend every day with. I treat him with the same respect that I treat other people, no matter what their age. So often it seems that children are separated from other people in how we treat them. They are either told what to do and expected to obey blindly or they are put onto pedestals where they are treated as demi gods who must be coddled and given sacrifices. I choose the middle way, I look to him as another person whom I love, someone that it is my responsibility to care for and help him to become himself. I honor him because I love him and want him to understand what it means to be part of this family, community and world.
When thinking about raising Alder I am always drawn to this quote by David Orr:
We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.