WHEN YOUR SON IS CAUGHT SLEEP­ING

Activated - - NEWS - By Jewel Roque

On the way home after an evening out­ing with some friends, I asked my youngest if he had a good time.

“Sort of,” he an­swered. “But the kids on the play­ground were teas­ing me.”

“About what?” I asked. He some­times re­acts strongly to com­ments, so I as­sumed it wasn’t a big deal.

“Eric said he saw a pic­ture of me sleep­ing while do­ing home­work, and then Les­lie said she saw it too, and all the kids started laugh­ing.”

I didn’t know how to re­spond. I had posted a photo on Face­book of my son sleep­ing at his desk, his home­work be­side him. I had thought it was cute. My son puts his all into his ac­tiv­i­ties, but when he’s tired, he’s tired. And he sleeps.

It runs in my fam­ily. My sib­lings and I know that once we reach a cer­tain point of fa­tigue, we can’t push past it. Sleep is the only so­lu­tion. My son has some­how learned that early. When he’s tired, even if it’s when we’re about to sing happy birth­day at a party or when he’s sup­posed to be fin­ish­ing up his home­work, he will sleep.

My hus­band and I un­der­stand that and work around it. Our son’s

teach­ers, for the most part, have also been un­der­stand­ing that at times he might fall asleep at his desk. I try to get him to bed on time when he’ll have an early morn­ing or a long day.

Par­ents and teach­ers gen­er­ally un­der­stand these things. Other kids of­ten don’t.

When I posted the photo, I didn’t think about the pos­si­bil­ity of par­ents show­ing their kids the “cute” post, which in the mind of a child might not be “cute” but “silly” or “funny” or “em­bar­rass­ing.” Ma­te­rial to tease with.

Some­thing I had done un­think­ingly caused my son hurt. It cast him in a neg­a­tive light in the minds of his friends. They prob­a­bly for­got about it a minute later, and they were all play­ing again. But that mo­ment, I had to ad­mit to my boy that it wasn’t their fault; it was mine.

I pulled up the Face­book photo and showed it to my son, say­ing, “I posted this photo of you the other day. I didn’t think any­one would tease you about it.” Then I promised, “I won’t post any­thing of you un­less I ask you first.” I al­ready have that agree­ment with other mem­bers of my im­me­di­ate fam­ily, but I didn’t think it would mat­ter to my youngest. I was wrong.

It’s strange I would make a mis­take like that. Think­ing back to my own child­hood, my strong­est emo­tions re­sulted from teas­ing. I can re­mem­ber half a dozen sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions, be­fore the age of five, where I was brought to tears by teas­ing. Painful mo­ments tend to re­main in the mind and the heart long after the echo of the ac­tual words fade.

How of­ten do my own words or side com­ments have the same ef­fect as those chil­dren on the play­ground? When I’m try­ing to fo­cus on work, and after one too many in­ter­rup­tions, snap at the kids, telling them to leave me alone so I can get some­thing done. Or when they’re ar­gu­ing and I can’t stand the con­tention, so I tell them I don’t care who said what and whose fault it is—I just want peace.

After care­ful re­flec­tion, I vowed to see ev­ery mo­ment of life through the eyes of my child.That’s not a prom­ise I can make, nor one I can keep, but it is some­thing I can try. Not a once-and-for-all de­ci­sion, but a mo­ment-by-mo­ment choice. To slow down. To think. To pray. To love.

To re­mem­ber the words of a lov­ing Christ who took time for the chil­dren. “Al­low the chil­dren to come to me,” Je­sus said. “Don’t for­bid them, be­cause the king­dom of heaven be­longs to peo­ple like these chil­dren.” 1

Some­how, you need to cling to your op­ti­mism. Al­ways look for the sil­ver lin­ing. Al­ways look for the best in peo­ple. Try to see things through the eyes of a child. See the won­der in the sim­plest things. Never stop dream­ing. Be­lieve any­thing is pos­si­ble.— Richie Samb­ora (b. 1959)

If I had my child to raise all over again, I’d fin­ger paint more, and point the fin­ger less. I’d do less cor­rect­ing, and more con­nect­ing. I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes. I would care to know less, and know to care more. I’d take more hikes and fly more kites. I’d stop play­ing se­ri­ous, and se­ri­ously play. I’d run through more fields, and gaze at more stars. I’d do more hug­ging, and less tug­ging. I would be firm less of­ten, and af­firm much more. I’d build self-es­teem first, and the house later. I’d teach less about the love of power, and more about the power of love.— Diana Loomans

Jewel Roque lived in In­dia for 12 years as a mis­sion­ary. Now in Cal­i­for­nia, she works as a free­lance writer and ed­i­tor.

1. Matthew 19:14 CEB

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