A couple days ago we were driving to school and Rocket declares “my teachers are cuckoo!” Before responding, I pause for a moment and wonder where he learned such a kid-appropriate word. Certainly wasn’t from his parents. Then I ask him why. He cocks his head to one side and throws his hands out, palms up, contorting his face into a “you’re not going to believe this” look and responds, “They wanted me to count to 30. Isn’t that cuckoo?” Dude, he said it again.
I try not to laugh (or smile) because the kid is sensitive and really gets his feelings hurt when he’s being serious and the idiots around him are obviously missing the point. The ‘good mother’ voice in my head whispers that I should back up his teachers, explain the importance of learning, and counting, whether it’s to thirty or elsewhere…but he’s sitting there with those freckles and blue eyes, dirty Vans and grass-stained khakis, and those unruly blond curls stuck against his forehead and I have NO POWER, so I respond immediately and with vigor “WHAT? They wanted you to do WHAT? Insane! Totally inappropriate! Why would they want you to count to thirty? It’s just weird really.” And he’s getting excited, nodding his head, “I know, I know” as if finally somebody understands the crap he has to go through every day. Ava knows immediately what to do (she’s smiling in the back seat cause he can’t see her), and she joins the discussion, emphatically agreeing that counting to 30 is a silly and unreasonable task. He’s visibly relieved that we understand the gravity of the situation.
And in that moment I adore my little family. We are satisfied and happy.
Because we were being a family, doing what families should do, together, supporting each other. Because Rocket needed us and we delivered. I knew the reason he belittled the task was that he couldn’t do it. And I knew he probably should be able to do it at his age. But the truth is I really don’t care. And I hope I never care. I hope I never let some “life lesson” about learning or achievement or school or whatever outshine the simple message we sent him that day in the car, the one that promised your family will always, always have your back, little one.