I hate labeling my kid. I go out of my way NOT to do it. I want to just know KG, to be his mom, and help guide him through his childhood. And I go out of my way not use diagnosis as a crutch (for him or for me). I also try not to be defensive of him.

But for the sake of understanding, I will tell you that he has a different mindset, different behavior at times, and definitely different social norms.

My husband and I have been married for six years. We are a blended family, and that brings on challenges, especially in regards to discipline. But disciplining some kids can be a little more complex, so we need help, therefore we found a counselor who specializes in more complex situations.

Our counselor asked us how other people’s views of my kids impact us. I paused. In general, I don’t care too awfully much what people think. And I work really hard not to let what people think of my kids or my parenting to (negatively) impact how I parent. Sometimes I have to pretend like I am in a bubble and tune out the world, but I pride myself on parenting the same way whether I have witnesses or if I am at home (it’s not exactly the same but I try.)

But do I care what people think of my kid in general? Well short answer: kind of. At least enough write this overdo post.

KG did everything a little late, talked differently, bit other kids, got kicked out off daycare, and found trouble around many corners. I have spent a lot of time in meetings. I have cried and snotted in front of many a teacher. I have even made teachers cry because I was frustrated and angry and feeling awfully alone. And I regret that. I now go out of my way to stand beside each teacher and support them the very way I pray they will support me. And I have realized that it helps if people actually like me (my intentions more so than anything), and care about my son (especially since he needs their guidance too.)

My son is a unique person, and I wouldn’t change him. He is creative and non-linear. Ask him to describe something to you, and his response might dazzle you. He has an earnest interest in science and memorizes science facts and quizzes me (I almost never know the answers). Last week he broke up a girl fight at school. This week he asked me if angels poop. He was completely serious. (That was stumper. Message me if you know the answer. Or if you want to hear mine.)

The journey of my son’s life has been affected by his trials and his differences, but I really do love who he is, how he loves, and I can’t wait to see his life continue to unfold.

I don’t want to change him.

But not everyone gets him. He is easily frustrated and easily angered. He says odd stuff, curses at times, and makes jokes at the wrong times. He is way too open about private stuff. He is bad at eye contact and handshakes and sometimes, he looks upset with others when really he is disappointed in himself. He is socially awkward at times too.[ I think he gets it ALL from me, but that’s another post ;-)]

I have to really, really, really work at not running around going off on people sometimes. I want to tell them what a good kid he really is, that he is generous, not stingy with gifts, tender-hearted, interesting, good with little kids, sweet with dogs, a great dancer and better at sports than he seems (he gets nervous.)

I want to tell the world that that he will be something; that he already is something.

He is harder on himself than anyone on this planet can ever be on him. And I suspect that’s why he is the way he is sometimes. Because he just wants to be better, to act better, to achieve more. And he doesn’t always know how. And it frustrates him.

And I don’t have all the answers. And I never will.

And not everyone is going to “get” him, or like him, or understand him.

But that’s life.

And that’s why I don’t run around making excuses for him (at least I try not to), or pulling the special needs card every time he doesn’t make the team or earn a spot somewhere. I have NEVER gone ahead of him and said, “Please choose him because he needs this” even though it might have helped, or might have kept him from some rejection. I never want to send him where he is not wanted. That is not successful living to me.

But damn does my heart break sometimes.

If people knew what I knew, would they treat him better or worse? Would he be more accepted or more often rejected? Because at this point, he might just come across as a tall, pretty cute kid with kick ass hair who is a little shy or a little funny. Or he might seem like a kid full of rage, with low self-esteem and a bad attitude. Or he might seem smart, quirky, extroverted and surprisingly thoughtful. And all of those could be true depending on the day.

My son, is incredibly, beautifully, wonderfully human.

And then there are the people who see him…really see him. And they go out of their way to connect with him, to lend him a helping hand or offer him a word of encouragement. Why do they get it when so many people don’t? I am guessing something or someone in their life has given them the gift of well-developed empathy. We don’t all have that gift, but I am thankful for those in my son’s life that do.

As a mom, there is nothing more rewarding than when others see the good in your kid, and can see when he is trying, can see past a lot of the junk, and offer some good old fashioned kindness.

I could offer you up some “awareness” day info to help you understand my kid better, but here’s the reality:

He’s not going to run through life wearing a shirt that tells everyone why he is mad at himself, or cussing for no apparent reason. He is not going to take me to work with him so I can put everyone in their place when they think the worst of him. He has to LIVE in this world, truly do life in it. And he will have to make some adjustments at times, and at other times, he will have to learn to embrace what makes him different and spectacular.

But he will have to blaze his own trails.

And in the end, we all could be a little more aware of why people act the way that they do, and ask the right questions if we really care to know. We can stop jumping to conclusions. We can even offer our help and actually come along someone who is struggling, and offer a pat on the back or a word of encouragement. We can make sure that no human being lives life unseen, or completely misunderstood.

We can be kind. We can be brave, untamed and trail-blazingly kind.

Awareness of ourselves, and our capacity to love, is what we need more of. And this is what I want my kids to learn too: LOVE is successful living, to me.

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I loathe trends.

I can also be a bit of a Scrooge at times. My heart, I am convinced, is part stone.

I always hear of people getting in line at Starbucks, or another drive through, and being pleasantly surprised that the person in front of them had paid for their order. I have a couple of friends that seem to always rack up on the free goodies.

I always wondered why no one had done that for me? Sounds super selfish right? It is I suppose. But I guess I wondered why some people seem to attract kindness. Are they kinder than me? Do they deserve it more? Or are they just in the drive through more often?

I paid for someone’s order once. It felt pretty good. I am not sure what I hoped to achieve. I guess I just wanted to jump in with this trend. I gave myself permission to be a “sheep” that day.

Then yesterday changed my perspective. I woke up at 6am, prodded the kids out of bed, retreated to my inner sanctum to doll myself up, then entered the kitchen to collect my offspring, and found one child half-clothed and eating a granola bar 75 seconds before we need to be crushing gravel down our driveway.

I lost my cool. I started barking orders. I began piling on some guilt (you are making your brother late, he is going to get a tardy slip, he is going to get a write up, he will have detention, he will become a convict, the Earth will split wide open and the creatures of the underworld will come crawling out…you know the drill).

The not-late-son and I got in the car and started the process of fake driving away. The late granola eating youngling came hobbling out, no coat, massive backpack, shoes and mismatched socks in hand, with a look of “holy cow she is leaving me” on his face. We slowed to 1.5 miles and hour and let him jump in.

We dropped off the not-late son (who was late, and did get a tardy slip, but the rest of the consequences have yet to come to fruition, i.e. the Earth is still in tact.) Then I remembered that forgot to get my secret Santa person a gift (p.s. I am actually a secret Scrooge who thinks secret Santa is lame but doesn’t want to look like a giant turd so I play along.) So we went to Starbucks so I could purchase a gift card. I ordered $50 in gift cards and a small pumpkin spice latte.

Then it happened. It finally happened.

Someone paid for my coffee.

And then something weird happened. I began crying.

And I couldn’t stop. I tried to stifle a sob, tried to protect my eye makeup, tried to prevent the ugly crying face in case cars driving by were looking at me. Without a single fast food napkin in the car, my tears just flowed.

One free coffee softened my stony heart. Without knowing the person who purchased my coffee, without knowing why they did it, or what their story is, I cried because their kindness was completely unexpected. All of the anger and frustration of my morning came poring down my cheeks.

Boy did I need that.

This is a thank you to all the “sheep”, to all the people who aren’t afraid to follow trends, who don’t care if they look cool, or care if they get to keep their anti-establishment patch on their sleeve. This is a thank you to all of you who put kindness at the top of your list and who wake up with the mission to change someone’s day.

I decided that there is nothing wrong with being a sheep if you choose the right flock. Maybe even better than being a rebel without a cause.

So I paid for the coffee for the car behind me.