I went on a field trip today with my boys' classes to a pumpkin patch.
After the talking scarecrow and the loud cow and the piles of squash and the muddy corn maze, my six-year-old and I were standing in line together for the hay-ride. I was taking pictures of him and his best friend and he looked at me and said, "I don't want you here. Go away."
I am not kidding.
We need therapy. I know.
But I tried to act calm while praying that no one nearby heard the comment. I smiled. You know, that lovely, patronizing smile we moms give to all other humans in vicinity when we want to scream, but we can't.
I went to find my other child.
He was happy to see me. Too happy for an eight-year-old.
Later that night, as I tucked him into bed, I asked: "Did anything happen today at the pumpkin patch? You seemed kinda sad, like you didn't want to be with your friends."
Nothing. No response.
Then: A kick.
I have learned the meaning of The Kick: It means this: I am upset. I don't have any idea how to articulate my anger and frustration. But somehow YOU are to blame for it all. Because you brought me into this world. And! You put me into these messes with other flawed human beings and left me alone for seven hours a day to figure it all out on my own. And I don't know how. And I want to cry. But I don't think I should. But I am mad. At you. But don't you dare leave my side right now.
It's a weird kick.
And you just have to grab the kicking leg. And squeeze it. And say as little as possible. Just be there in the pain. And not abandon it.
Eventually I got this from him: All of my new friends have other friends that they've had longer than me. And they leave me. Because I'm new.
And then you cry. Because you feel that pain. All too well.
And after you hug them and cry with them and suffer a few bruises from The Kick, you stand in the doorway of their room and you pray. You pray that they will survive the struggles and the pain and the heartbreak and the regrets and the shame they will find in this life. That they will find a few strong souls to walk with them in the mire. That they will be a good friend. That they won't stop trying. And you pray that you haven't made a bad choice in tearing them away from their familiar. That they will be better humans because of this choice. Eventually.
And that eventually, someday, soon, will come. Soon.