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To The Gentle Giant From A Mom Who Sometimes Gets It Wrong

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I have an unsuspecting guest blogger today. It’s my eleven year-old son, Taylor, or as I like to call him, the Gentle Giant. Gentle because he was born with a heart much more complex and intricate than most, and giant because, well, he’s really, really tall.

Taylor has always been sensitive to the ways of the world…more synchronized to the tune of his own feelings and the vibrations and chords of those around him than anyone I know. Even though our parts come from the same place, they’re constructed in an entirely different way. What seems like a glancing blow to me hits him directly; a sucker punch to the gut with a sting that lingers and burns.

At first and for a long time, I wanted to change my son. Make him tougher, more resilient, and in my mind’s eye, strong. No caring parent wants a child to hurt.

When he was a little boy, all I could see through my one-dimensional, cracked crystal ball were children teasing him. I imagined him crying while I tried to clean up the tiny slivers of his psyche, unable to reconnect them in a way that would cause less pain. With a vascular organ as transparent as his, I was afraid he’d bleed in ways that would require emotional surgery, a method of repair I was too ill-equipped to attempt.

Over the years, some of my fears have come to light. He’s mourned things I don’t understand, and lamented situations that wouldn’t cause me a second thought. And yes, he’s had his feelings bruised by others who are built of vital pieces that are shaped a little differently than his. I’m embarrassed to admit that one of those “others” unintentionally includes me.

But he’s also surprised me in ways I could have never predicted. As a kid on the cusp of tweendom, he now feels compelled to hide his free-flowing tears, but he’s always the first to crack a joke. Because his feelings run like fissures through the ground, he’ll defend anyone being bullied, unconditionally and without a second thought. I’ve seen him jump to an unknown child’s defense and am amazed by his courage. Even for the right reasons, I didn’t have the self-confidence at his age to make waves or challenge the status quo.

It took me awhile to understand that the element of my son’s personality I wanted to alter is the exact one that makes him so beautifully unique. I imagine that the children who cry easily become the teenagers who feel deeply and the adults who have the potential to heal the world.

With the best of intentions we often damage our children. In our haste to mold them into the people we wish we were, we sometimes hurt rather than help. Although I’m ashamed to admit it, I see now that by trying to make my son stronger, I actually injured parts I intended to support. He had strengths all along that I failed to recognize, and it was never Taylor who needed to change. It was me.

There is absolutely no genetic precedent in either my husband’s or my family for a child who is predicted to grow to be about 6’5″. The only way to explain his size is that it takes a large body to hold such a huge heart. His height is a defense mechanism in a way, a physical vessel to guard against any emotions that penetrate the protective cover, and cradle something too valuable to lose.

I’m not always proud of myself, but I am unconditionally and forever proud of my son.

Guest blogger Stacie is a married mother of three animated (as in cartoonish) children living in the sunny suburbs of Denver. When she’s not blogging at Gemini Girl in a Random World, she stalks people in her ginormous SUV who text while driving. So if you’re gonna be on I-25 anytime soon, look out.

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  • comment avatar Jolene March 22, 2012

    I love this. I have a little boy who is sooooo sensitive and it worries me. This is a good reminder not to push him too much and to embrace who he is.

  • comment avatar Jen March 22, 2012

    Oh, I so needed to hear that someone else (and in Denver, too) is going through this. Thanks.

    • comment avatar Stacie Chadwick March 22, 2012

      Any time. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • comment avatar Stacie Chadwick March 22, 2012

    Thanks Jolene. It took me awhile to figure out that sensitivity has far more positives than negatives, but I’m so happy I did. =)

  • comment avatar Billie March 22, 2012

    My son IS the gentle giant, ha! He is 13 and just over 6′ tall, but his heart and feelings are always on his sleeve. I find that if sit and reason with him vs dictate, things go a lot smoother for us. With my daughter, I can dictate and things get done – she couldn’t care less. I think parenting is all about finding the best ways to communicate with your children as individuals. They know that I am mom though, before their friend and when my foot is put down…that’s the rule. 🙂

    • comment avatar Stacie Chadwick March 22, 2012

      So well said. Thanks for the insightful comment (my son is 11 and 5’4″…he now eclipses me by 1/4 of an inch, so we’ll see if he becomes as giant as your giant!).

  • comment avatar Rick Belden March 25, 2012

    As a man who has struggled with deep sensitivity all my life in a culture that is all too often unaccepting of it (at best) and hostile to it (at worst), I very much appreciate seeing this post. I greatly admire your honesty in sharing your difficulties and errors in recognizing and supporting this trait in your son, and I find your commitment going forward to seeing and honoring him as he is to be very encouraging.

    If you’re not already familiar with it, I recommend checking out Elaine Aron’s book “The Highly Sensitive Person”. You can find her website easily via Google. Her book was a game changer for me when I encountered it and I feel sure it would be a good resource for both you and your son.

    Best wishes to both of you.

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