Today’s Family Focus Friday is NOT everything roses. In fact, the ugly truth is about to rear it’s head – and I’m not completely ready. It’s the last 7 days of school. That alone is enough to make everyone cry ugly tears. Our last day of school is June 8th, some kind of cruel way to force kids to spend part of their summer in a classroom. Terrible. But as we wind down the last few weeks of school, first grade homework and I are fighting like siblings – there may or may not have been some hair pulling going on. Just saying.
Maybe it’s my son getting more “lazy” as the days drag on. Can’t blame him. After so many weeks of grueling hours of homework everyday (yes, everyday), I would be toast too. Maybe it’s my end-of-the-rope feeling of how the heck can the teacher still be giving hours of homework everyday….I mean seriously? Maybe it’s the teacher’s haphazard way of presenting the homework every week. Something is either missing, changing or misunderstood with each new packet of homework. Hey, it’s the end of the year, she gets a break too.
But it’s in the midst of all of these end-of-the-school-year feels that we sat down to yet another day of Home Journal. Now if I have never explained the “FUN” involved with my son’s home journal, let me give you the pleasure now. In this cut in half black and white composition notebook are writing prompts that my son is to complete every day in paragraph form. He answers the question stapled inside the flap, then draws a picture. Pretty simple, except for the fact that it’s the MOST dreaded portion of my son’s homework.
Insert teeth pulling, eye gouging and a nails on a chalkboard overture.
So it was in this home journal that the teacher had written the following writing prompt. “What does your mother do that you find very funny?”
In my mind, I’m thinking this is so easy. I’m a funny person. I’m sarcastic. I’ve got a quick wit. And if nothing else my clumsy movements are enough to give me a hilarious overtone. So as my son sat and pondered this question, I knew we were in for another agonizing homework session.
10 minutes. I tried to coax him with some open ended thoughts. 20 minutes. I dropped some heavy hints. 30 minutes. He had not written a word. Aggravated at this point, I started in with the timer threats, toys taken away and no allowance. Yes, I went for the knees. 40 minutes. He’s now yelling back at me with the words “There’s nothing that I find funny about you! You don’t do anything funny!”
It hit me, like a ton of bricks on the head. While I do have a sense of humor, it’s usually unleashed in adult company. (Or if I’m really not funny – don’t tell me!) Sarcasm isn’t taken lightly at age 7. Quick wit doesn’t compute with a first grader. I don’t jest with him. We don’t tell jokes. We don’t have tickle fights. And in his innocence and honesty – my son couldn’t find a single moment when mom was funny.
And I couldn’t remember one time when we had tears crying, bellies hurting kind of laughter together.
As a mom, I’m pretty strict. Rules, homework, chores, safety, nourishment – that’s me as a mom. I’m not the fun mom. I’m not the funny mom. And that realization hurt.
I want to be the fun mom. I want to be the funny mom. I want my son to find me just as hilarious as I am strict. I don’t want his memories of me to be of a “mean” mom. And so as he erased his home journal for the 50th time, I found that erasure sinking deeper and deeper into my heart.
It was a home journal that was as tough to write as it was to read. 60 minutes to answer the question “What does your mother do that you find very funny.” And later that evening as I tucked him into bed with the words “I love you,” I was straining my ears to hear him whisper “I love you too, mom.” I needed that validation that despite my failures as a “funny mom” that he still loved me.
And as the ugly tears came streaming down that night (there may have been chocolate and hormones involved – I’ll never tell), I promised myself to be a better mom. To be more fun. To be more funny. To have more laughing moments than strict moments. To be the mom that my son needs me to be.
My son has made this blog go viral quite a few times. If you’ve missed some of our most honest moments, catch up here:
- The Scariest 45 Minutes of My Life
- Dear Preschool Teachers
- Raising Biracial Kids | A Letter to Future Bullies