I think one of the hardest things to do in life is take the high road. To be classy when the rest of the world shows it can't be. To keep your mouth closed when all you want to do is shout the truth from the mountaintops. To act with a level of decorum and grace that others do not. To suffer a punishment you didn't deserve, and to suffer it proudly. Quietly. Humbly. With your eyes laser-focused on what's coming. The future. And it's endless possibilities.
It's hard enough to do this as an adult. But as a child? Well. I've watched one of my boys weather the most insane storm and come out the other side dried, pressed, and better for having sailed through it.
We don't realize how much we teach our kids all the days that we're fortunate enough to spend with them. How much they listen to us, how much they hear us say (for better or for worse) and how much our example rubs off on them. That's why we feel such pride when someone commends one of our children for being exemplary. We WANT them to be exemplary. No... WE want to be exemplary. And that's the sad, God's honest truth. Our children represent everything we wanted to be, but didn't become.
My son Ryan starts classes at a new school tomorrow. It's a new beginning for him. A new and much needed fresh chapter. But I know he's going to kill it. He's never ridden on a school bus before, but now he will. And for the first time in his life, he'll be The New Kid. The one every one else watches for a while and sizes up. He's going to be awesome. He's always been awesome. Even when people who were jealous of him said he wasn't. He always was. And it made them so mad. How sad.
I asked Ryan tonight if he wants me to walk him to his bus stop tomorrow, and he said no. I didn't think he wanted me to, but the little slice of sensitive mom in me wanted to hear him say yes. Yes, please stand with me. Yes, please hold my hand. Yes, please love me. Yes, watch me go. But Ryan said no. He's got this. He's always had it. Even when he was a baby.
In a way, it will be more meaningful for me to watch that bus pull out of our neighborhood tomorrow morning than it was for me to say goodbye to our son Michael at Clemson University a few weeks ago. Both boys are charting a new path. Writing a new memory. Penning a new page in their book of life. But for my twelve year old, the little boy who's managed more garbage because of some adults who dumped him? The principals and parents and bishop who let him down? This is big. And I can't wait.
Jealousy is an ugly thing, you know. It's something we learn from a very early age and we never quite shake. I can't tell you many people I've ever been jealous of, to be honest. I've always marched to my own beat and felt sorry for people who needed attention. Ryan's the same way. Funny. Kind. Sweet. Thoughtful. Smart as a whip. I could go on and on.
Here's to removing ourselves - and the people we love - from toxic situations. Here's to removing toxic people from our lives. Here's to living life according to our plans, our ideals, and not worrying about the opinions of others. And here's to realizing that, when other people are jealous of you, it means you're doing something right.
Good luck, my little man. Soon, you'll be grown and gone like your big brothers. But never forget. There will always be a special place in my heart reserved just for you. My fighter. My lover. My true believer.
You've so got this.