Any one who has had sons knows that some of the best lessons in life can be learned from them. The first lesson I learned from my sons was Joy. When they were toddlers they could find Joy in the smallest things, such as playing with the boxes at Christmas more than the toys that were in them. They didn’t need anything sophisticated to provide their Joy, they found it in their surroundings. They taught me to look for Joy in the ordinary circumstances of life.
The next lesson I learned from my sons was an appreciation of Beauty. They found Beauty in things I would have considered common place. When they would bring me a bouquet of dandelions, I would smile and thank them for the “pretty flowers.” They didn’t see weeds, they just saw the Beauty of nature. I learned to see Beauty where I hadn’t seen it before.
When they went to Pre-school and Kindergarten, I learned Tolerance. They did not see color, race or economic status in their fellow students. They just liked who they liked and wanted to play with whomever they met. They had not learned to discriminate against people relating to anything society would later want to put on them. I knew I needed to be more like them and just view people as people…period.
When they were in Elementary School, I learned Generosity. Both of my sons began to see the economic disparity in their classmates lives and were concerned for their them. One son went out for track. He had three pairs of tennis shoes and for the first few days gave the shoes he was wearing away to someone needing a better pair. By the third day he had to make a hard decision. If he gave away his last pair, he would not be able to go out for the sport himself. We all learned that unfortunately, there are limits to where our Generosity can take us.
In Junior High, they taught me to let them have their Independence. Each had to make their own decisions and suffer the consequences for those decisions. Our youngest son went along with all of the other boys in the class and refused to write in a journal like his English teacher assigned. He took a “D” rather than cooperate, and was grounded until he brought his grade up. Our oldest was suspended for a few days when he turned on a kid who had been harassing him throughout the year. He was ready to deck the kid and the principal told him that if he would just leave the kid alone, he could stay in school and the other kid would be suspended. He said, “No, if you leave me in school today, I will hit him.” He did not hit the kid and took his suspension days having stood up to him. Each had to make his decisions Independently of his father and me.
In High School, they taught me Consideration and Respect. During a heated discussion with my oldest, he said, “Mom, you always think you are right!” That struck a chord with me as I could be a force to contend with in a verbal argument. I needed to learn to Consider my son’s opinions and not always think that I knew what was best for him. The same lesson came to me also via the younger son. He was a bright child and I wanted him to go to college right after high school. He knew he wasn’t ready and had no desire to go to college then. When I finally quit fighting with him about it; he went about his own way, joined the Army and later worked in the construction industry. Eventually, he did go to college, but it was on his terms pursuing a career he was interested in. I needed to learn to show Consideration for their opinions and Respect my sons’ decisions and let go of my preconceived ideas about what was best for their lives.
My sons have taught me a lot and still continue to teach me in their adult years. They are both intelligent and have deep moral values. They are better able to discern the gray areas in life and because of them, I have learned not to be such a black and white person. I appreciate my sons and all of the lessons they have taught me, and I know I am a better person because of it.