Lessons from my Mama’s Boy

by Jeff on July 11, 2009

I shared yesterday about our “Perfect Day”.  The part I skimmed over was the afternoon of boating…the highlight.

A friend of mine was just saying yesterday isn’t it weird when we see our little quirks and idiosyncracies running around with diapers on? Yes, our children are so much like us!  Well I saw it big time in Dutch today.

While he is SUPER BUSY and active beyond words, he’s definitely not a dare-devil.  He’s very shy at first and doesn’t like to try new things.  He’s absolutely content to stay home all day and play with his trucks and read books, without going anywhere.  In fact, the fact that we go to the park every day is because mommy needs a  break and wants some exercise, not because he asks to go.  He’s a homebody just like me.

So this morning when we told him we were going boating he firmly insisted, “No! I want play home.”  We tried to tell him how fun it would be but he wanted nothing to do with it.  Finally we lured him with a peanut butter sandwich and got him in the car, but when we got to the boat dock he started crying and said he wanted to go home and go to bed (now that’s serious).  When we tried to put on his life jacket he went totally ballistic and clung to me, crying–huge tears streaming down his face (that is rare).  So I carried him onto the boat and just held him for the first little while as he got more used to things. Sure enough, he slowly began to lessen his grip, look outside, and eventually even walked around, put his feet in the water with Daddy, and cheered and clapped for Daddy as he wakeboarded.  He was having a blast.  But when we asked him if he wanted to go in the water it was still a firm, “No!” and then he’d cling to me again.  Yes, it is true, I have a mama’s boy on my hands.

Then there’s me: Dutch + 100lbs. + a ponytail.  I used to waterski.  But I realized today it hadn’t been since early college, ten years ago, that I last skied.  Certainly not since Jeff and I have been married.  I’m always wimping out, or too cold, or pregnant (that’s a good excuse), and I never go.  But as I watched Dutch today, as I watched him try to be brave but come back and cling to me, as I watched him refuse to go in the water, I thought, “I’ve got to ski for Dutch.  That’s the only way he’ll be brave is if I do it first.”  So, I pulled on the lifejacket, jumped into the water (cold!!!), and pulled on the skis I hadn’t seen in so many years.  As soon as I sat there in the water I thought, “there’s no way I’ll get up. We used to have a pole and now we don’t, and I haven’t done this in so long.”  But as soon as I yelled “hit it” Dad took off, and would you believe it–I popped right out of the water and found myself screaming at the top of my lungs in delight as we raced through the water.  When I finished (I don’t like crashing so when I get too tired I just let go of the rope and slowly sink), they were all cheering and I was beaming ridiculously, bursting with silly pride.  I swam over to the side of the boat.  Then, to my amazement, Dutch says,

“I want go in the wa-wa.”

We all look at him with wide eyes. “You want go in the wa-wa with Mommy, Dutch?”

“Yeah!”  So to all of our surprise instead of waiting for my dad to lift him carefully over the edge, he goes to the back of the boat and just like he does with me in the pool–he jumps right off the back of the boat into my arms.  Poor guy, the water was COLD and I don’t think he expected that, so it was a bit of a shock, but he stayed for a second before getting back in the boat.  You better believe we cheered like crazy at his brave little self jumping in the lake!

But this was where I really saw how similar we are: of course I’m an adult so I hide my ridiculousness but I must admit when I got out of the water I felt pretty darn pround. We had driven past this decked out boat full of high schoolers and skinny little girls in their barely-there bikinis, and I thought, “Ha! I got two kids in the boat! Take that!”   I know. Silly.  I realize waterskiing is NOT a big deal. But you’d have thought I scaled Mt. Everest by how happy I was.  So then later Dutch gets brave again while Jeff is in the water and decides he wants to go back in!  And this time, Jeff holds him and jumps in and accidentally tips just right so that Dutch’s basically dives in headfirst–dunked under the water! Dad and Mom and I gasp, horrified, thinking he’ll never want to see water again after being dunked in the icy lake. And yes, Dutch was a little shaken, but after coughing for a sec, he was all smiles, and when he got back in the boat, it was the most hilarious thing, it was like watching myself, except without adult inhibitors. He jumped around and shouted, “I got in the wa-wa! Way in the wa-wa! Wa-wa on me! I wet!”  You could tell he felt like some gladiator, a conqueror of all things marine.  We were hysterical

So by the time we left, Dutch was driving the boat–literally.  He drove the boat in, he loved the boat. He was ready to move into the marina.  What a change from the scared little boy clinging to mama who had arrived just hours earlier.

So I had to reflect on the drive home, how like Dutch I am.  Dutch is so busy and wild it’s easy to think that he’s naturally brave.  But he’s not.  And you know I can create a whirlwind with my busy schedule and pretend like I’m taking on the world, but inside I’m pretty much a wimp, clinging to mommy instead of diving into the water.  So today was big, for both Dutch and me. How thankful I am for my son, who shows me more about myself than I ever wanted to know, and challenges me to do more than I ever want to do.  Thanks, son.