BayouKidz: Let Down
article by Cindy G. Foust
Happy Fall, Readers! It’s three months until Christmas! Sadly, we are still experiencing stuffy humid days and the only other thing more stifling is the agonizing mud slinging of the current presidential election. Can I get an AMEN?
However, after the air turns cooler, of course, this morphs into my favorite time of year. I love the smells and the foods and the football, of course, of this season. I’ve written in columns past about how much my family has always enjoyed the first holiday of the fall season…Halloween.
Critics…please don’t judge! Our casual observance of a holiday that has always brought such fun to our home, from my childhood to the present, with costumes and trick-or-treating and family and friends eating Frito pies and popcorn balls is a time of celebration for us. To be clear, we don’t worship Pagan gods.
In fact, we worship God, but we still enjoy Halloween. Well, except for that one year, when I was 13, and I really wanted to dress up like Dolly Parton, but my friend Julie thought it was a dumb idea, so she convinced me to dress up like Jane, from Tarzan and Jane, and go all Gitarzan (throw back for the Ray Stevens fans) on the people we were trick-or-treating to.
I vividly remember looking more like a character from the Flintstones, with slightly bucked teeth and this ginormous bone in my hair. It was, in three words, ”very unfortunate looking.” And it created such a sense of disappointment in me, because I really wanted to be Dolly Parton.
And then, there was this other time that I tried out for cheerleader in 7th grade, and I didn’t make it. Just because my legs did some freaky scissor move during my cartwheel, and I landed square on my “tail-end” (to quote Bitsy), I think I still should have made it, because I did have the most school spirit (that’s code for I had kind of a big mouth and I could yell really loud.) But I will never forget the sense of disappointment I felt, that something I really wanted didn’t work out.
These two disappointments were just a few of the many that were to come in my lifetime, like many of my readers, I’m sure. And now, as I start the 50th year of my life, and my 19th year as being a parent, I have to say that none of the disappointments I ever endured as a teenager or young adult, compares to the challenge of helping my own children navigate their disappointments…their heartache. I’m sure the dad’s I ask would scoff at the notion that you can actually have physical pain as a mother, when you watch your child go through something that pushes them into a broken pile, heaped in their bed, but a mother, now a mother reading this article, will totally get it. I’ve had some unfortunate things happen to me in my life, it’s true, but few get to me like when my child is hurting. Especially when it’s my 18-year old grown son.
He has, in a few words, had some difficult times of his own. And if my readers will indulge me, for I am very careful to write little about my children (well, that’s not entirely true, but I do try to keep much of their private matters private), but this month I’m speaking out through the words of this column. Why? Because in the last week, my family has been inundated with support for a disappointment that left him, let’s see, how I can put this, a bit broken.
There is no need for details, those are irrelevant at this point, because let’s face it, every parent goes through these times when they have to look into the eyes of their child, who has been treated unfairly, unjustly and as a result, they are hurt and disappointed. It happens to all of us, and it happens to our children.
It’s just now that Scott and I are the emotional and moral compass for our child, our nearly grown child, even if it’s just for a bit longer, and as his parents, we are faced with how to deal with it. Let me be clear, I want to go all Psycho-Lifetime-the-Channel-for-Women movie on somebody, but my common – and legal – sense takes over after a few hours, and I figure that’s the kind of thing that follows you around for the rest of your life. No, that’s certainly not the answer.
I have to say, in some of my most recent instances, we had to start with prayer. We had to start with asking for wisdom and direction and patience and forgiveness. We had to consult our family, our friends, our support group, many of whom have gone through the exact same thing. That helps, you always want to talk to someone who “gets it” and ask them to weigh in on how they handled it. And for maybe the first time since I started writing this column, I didn’t research. Instead, Scott and I decided to lean on our own experiences and do what our parents before us have done. We talked it out with our child (I know he’s nearly 19, but he’s my child.)
For you see, life is full of these experiences, no matter sometimes how hard you work; no matter how talented you are; no matter that you’ve done everything and more than you’ve been asked to do, from a very young age (try 6th grade); no matter that you stayed loyal and
focused on the course at hand, despite having many other opportunities to do something different. And most of all, and most importantly you’ve stayed humble and very much a TEAM player, a quality even many adults have a hard time adhering to, including myself sometimes, because let’s face it, we all want to make it about ourselves sometimes. In spite of all this work, all this commitment, all this heart, all this drive…sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Or does it?
Right now, we can’t see the big picture, the bigger plan, but our faith tells us there is one. When I went through breast cancer treatment, I had many questions and many days of asking “why” is this happening to me. Now, in retrospect, I see God’s plan for my life, and how He uses this experience I endured to help others. But you know what? Part of that equation is we have to be willing to let God use us to do that.
In time, my son will be fine; he will be a better person; he has learned some hard, valuable lessons that not everybody is on your team, in fact, as Bitsy used to say, “There’s always a snake in the chicken coop.” But guess what, the ones that matter, family and friends, and the ones outside your intimate circle, the ones watching how you will handle your setback, your obstacle, when they reach out to you with a show of support that is so strong and so encouraging, and tell you they are behind you, well, then your focus starts to become a little clearer. Your step gets a little lighter. Your confidence, that before, was just enough to keep you humble, yet confident, begins to return. And ultimately, no matter the outcome, no matter what will subsequently happen, your character will be stronger, and you will be able to use this experience as a tool to help you navigate the rest of your life.
For me, it started with a silly Halloween costume (I swear, I started this column writing about 10 different ways to decorate your Jack-O-Lanterns, but that rabbit hole just swallowed me whole, and I had to keep writing.) Parents, teaching our children (even the nearly grown ones) that disappointments are an integral part of life, from the beginning to the end is good for them. It hurts when things don’t go their way or when things don’t turn out like they expected or wanted, but teaching them to rise above the adversity with their heads held high, with their faith in tact, and with the confidence that there will ultimately be a result that comes from this, usually better than what they were expecting before, has got to be a healthy way to help them navigate these tough times. Life is hard, “dad gum” and it just gets harder, but strong, confident children with a strong support system will learn that they will prevail, and the example they set by being the bigger, stronger, more determined person will likely influence the most unlikely sources.
I know my son will be fine…it’s innate in his DNA, and it will be fun to watch the outcome. And I appreciate the opportunity to share my life’s experiences with you readers, with just a few self-indulgent moments. I think it’s cheaper than a therapist, and I pray it will give a little inspiration to any of our BayouLife community that also takes the parenting role head on, no matter the challenge, and who works hard to raise these same children who will one day make up our BayouLife nation. See you next month with what I hope will be “25 Different Ways to Make Hot Chocolate.”