My Nonconformist Son.

I’m writing this post for my handful of long-time followers, as well as my close friends and family who have been riding this ridiculous train with me since 2010.

HI! I can’t believe you’re still here, but I want to thank you for staying. Can I offer you a drink?

Let’s talk about Maverick, my oldest child, aptly named. Remember all the times I honest-to-God thought something was wrong with my son? All the posts I have written (and they are countless, just type in “Maverick” or “ONE” on the sidebar and you can spend the next two hours reading about him if you’d like, which I’m guessing you wouldn’t) about what he said or destroyed, the weird things he did and the exasperation I felt at not knowing what to do … figuring out this child has eaten up a considerable amount of my time and energy.

I have called him high-spirited. I have said he was challenging. I have talked about his persistence, his rebelliousness, his penchant for questioning authority, his shocking hilarity, and my frustration at figuring out how to best parent him.

I have read books. I have read blogs. I have e-mailed people who specialize in challenging behavior to get their feedback and ideas. I made a counseling appointment and I cancelled it. When his preschool teacher voiced her concerns, I talked to his pediatrician who assured me he is normal. I experimented with his diet. I made him run around a lot to see if his problem was simply hyperactivity. I cut out TV. I encouraged him to explore outside.

I turned the TV back on again.

When close friends and family members voiced concerns, it weighed on me because I knew their concerns had merit. Robbie and I have worked tirelessly to parent Maverick to the best of our ability, but we still always seem to fall short. We knew he was special, and we believed we could channel it, unless we lost our shit first … in which case he would totally take over the household and start calling us by our first names.

Thankfully, we are more determined than he is. Thankfully, good parents don’t give up.

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We are truly his biggest fans and advocates, tempered with high expectations. We have conversations like, “No, you may not call me Harmony. Yes, I know that is my name, but YOU call me Mom or Mommy. It’s a sign of respect. THAT’S JUST WHAT WE DO, NOW DO IT. No, I will not call you Mr. Hobbs. I also will not refer to you as Your Majesty.”

Maverick challenges me in every way imaginable, testing to see how far he can push me before I don’t love him anymore. Trying to see if I will give up on him.

I won’t.

Ever.

I sometimes feel guilt over the way I handled certain situations in the past, but I didn’t know what to do. And even if I took the information I have now and went back for a do-over, I’m not sure I could hold it together any differently than I did before. Motherhood is a cold-hearted bitch like that — some parts are just hard, any way you slice it. I’m not ashamed to admit that I struggled. The good news is I’ve learned to give myself grace, and we all have become experts at saying “I’m sorry.”

Six months ago, Robbie and I finagled our way into a great neighborhood so that Maverick could attend a really good school. I’m a product of a private school education and Robbie always went to public. He assured me our son would not come home the first day asking what a blowjob is, and I took a deep breath and really hoped he was right. People told us he was too young, especially for a boy, to start school. He was 5 when the school year began, barely meeting the requirements which state a child has to be six years old by September 30. But we forged ahead. Every child is different, and if nothing else I know that my kids don’t seem to fit molds very well.

We sent him to school and it’s been amazing. We’ve learned that Maverick is really … something. He’s very smart. I can’t say enough how validating it has been to have teachers review test scores with us, and I don’t mean that in a braggy way, I mean it a no wonder he gave me so much hell, he was totally bored kind of way. Yesterday we met with a teacher who he will be spending time with every day in his “Gifted Resource” class and it was such an incredible feeling to look around and see an environment that is truly made for a kid just like Maverick. I want to hug every single one of them and thank them for teaching my son, because I’m maxed out just covering the bases over here.

Here’s the best part. Nothing is wrong with my kid.

I am not a deficient mother.

He’s just too smart for his own good, and the rest of us have trouble keeping up. Wow. WHAT A RELIEF. If you happen to run into him, feel free to commend him on being such a hard worker and imaginative thinker. You can point out his confidence and his humor … but please, please, do not tell Maverick he is smart.

He’s five steps ahead of you, and he already knows.

 

First Grade.

Today I bravely held Maverick’s hand as we moved with a flood of strangers into the elementary school. I looked at the other children and their parents, laden with school supplies, and wondered who else was terrified.

People tell us the East Baton Rouge Parish School System is broken. They say private school is the best option, that things aren’t what they used to be. They say we can’t trust our public schools, that children know too much, too soon; they warn of the dangers of drugs and guns and that my child will be exposed to sex by the time that he’s 8.

But I’m choosing to trust this school.

As we walk through the doors, I note that some parents look just as nervous as I feel. I look away from the big sign that says NO GUNS and I focus on the smiling teachers who are greeting us. They all seem genuinely excited for the school year to begin. 

We walk through a maze to find his classroom. Most of the other boys in his class are bigger than him. He’s young for a first-grader. Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe he’s too young. He’s still 5 years old, and most boys his age are entering Kindergarten this year or even next.

Maverick quietly introduces himself to Ms. Johnson. He answers her questions politely and shakes her hand. We find his desk and he sits and begins to color carefully inside the lines. “I love you,” I say. “I am so proud of you.” He begs me not to go. He says that he’s scared. I am, too, but I don’t tell him that.

“I have to leave you,” I remind him. “If I don’t leave, then you can’t learn. And because you want to be a scientist, you have to learn, right?”

And before the tears started, I gave him one last hug and turned away, leaving my little boy alone in a sea of faces, sitting at a desk with his name on it.

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