I found one of my boys on the stairs today. He looked… well, actually, he looked sulky. He has a great line in sulky looks. But, being his mum, I know that this is something that can often work against him. Because, very often, it isn’t hiding sulkiness at all, but some other rather difficult emotion. And he can find himself getting short shrift for being moody when in fact what he actually needs is to talk to someone.
So, once I’d told him off for being moody, walked away, and had a little flash of mumspiration (I take no credit for those. They seem to pop into the head at the right moment by way of MotherAid, and I’m always surprised and delighted that they have appeared in the nick of time. Of course, sometimes they occur after the event, which is not so useful…)
I went back. He had started to shuffle slowly up the stairs, shoulders slumped.
“OK…” I tried again. “What is it?”
It turned out that all his friends hate him. (I didn’t mention he’s also prone to exaggeration, did I? 😉 )
So we thrashed it out a bit, and it’s actually his best friend he’s having trouble with. Funny, since there wasn’t a day last week he wasn’t in and out of our house after school… But I’m not so ancient that I don’t remember those particular growing pains. The love/hate relationships. The intensity of the ‘best friend’ and apparent ease with which all that can be flicked off, like a switch.
I spoke to him about all that of course. But I remember precisely how much importance I attached to my own parents’ reminiscences of those ‘days of yore’. They didn’t understand, naturally. They weren’t me. I sighed with exasperation as I rolled my eyes and tried to listen. (I also love the cyclical nature of these things…)
But the bit that got to him, I think, was this:
“If there’s one thing I want you to know about life, to really understand, to remember, it’s this: Everything Changes.”
He nodded slowly.
“Of course, that’s pretty rubbish sometimes. After all, it also means that happiness doesn’t last forever. It comes and goes, just like sadness. If today is difficult, it doesn’t mean that tomorrow will be. If it’s raining today, it doesn’t mean that the sun won’t come out tomorrow. If you’re finding today, or your friends, or life, tricky, it won’t last.”
The trick, I suppose, is to try not to get too attached to any of those states, ‘good’ or ‘bad’… Which, I am very well aware, is easier said than done!
He seemed to take it all in.
The whole gang assembled, had their supper, got on with rather over-zealous larking. Walking past me, he stopped.
“I don’t think he really hates me.”
Impermanence. More a blessing than a curse? 🙂