Growing up, I never really thought much about having children. I knew I wanted to get married, but I felt so much like a child myself that the thought of trying to raise a child was like one blind man leading another. It seemed so foreign to me. I was 35 when I got married (that’s a whole “nuther” story), and had done quite a bit of traveling doing music, and living “on my own.” My husband had to talk me into having a child. I never felt that I had what it took to be a “Mom.” That was too big of a word for me to wrap my brain around. In my mind I was “still little”!
I was 37 when J-GQ was born. I was not a “natural” mother, like I saw many of my friends to be. I didn’t really know what to do with this new little bundle. I had to keep reminding myself that “I am a mommy.” I was a pretty “scared’ mom of a newborn, and really didn’t like that stage. At all. It was all scary to me. But, I did enjoy holding my boy on my chest every minute of every day. There is nothing like that feeling. I’m not particularly the smartest chick in the world (wish I was, but, I can admit it), and I think every mom hopes their chlid turns out to be “smart”, but we love them regardless. So, when I heard God tell me one day as I held my baby (yes, I really did hear Him), “Treat him like he is smart — because he’s smart”, I sort of brushed it off, like, “Yeah, right — every mom thinks their child is smart.”
However, a couple of days later my sister came over and was watching him as he was sleeping. As I walked into the bedroom, she looked at me and said, “I feel like God is telling me that this baby is very smart!” Whoa. What am I going to do with THIS?
But, I put it out of my mind and didn’t think much more about it, until he was about 20 months old. I took him to a church Bible study with me and put him in the nursery. When I came to pick him up, the nursery ladies said to me, “Now how old did you say he is? He knows his letters and would even look at an “E” and say it was a “backwards 3″, or look at a “P” and say it was an “upside down d”. I thought that was a little weird.
Then, about a month later, we are riding in the car and he said, “Hey, mom, I know what ‘alligator’ starts with!” I said, “Oh, yeah? What is it?” He said ‘A’!” I knew he knew that, though, because we had been playing “Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s” on the computer for a few months and that was one of the words. Then he said, “And I know what ‘elephant’ starts with! It’s an ‘E’!” I said, “Very good, son.” (Same thing. It was one of the words on the game.) Then I said, “Well, let me ask you this: what does ‘Debra’ start with?” He immediately replied, “D!” I looked at my husband. Then, I said, “Well, how about ‘Frank’?” He spouted out, “F!” My husband and I didn’t say anything except look at each other.
When I told my friend, Debra, about it, she had to see for herself. So, she invited us up to her work during lunch and took us to her office cafeteria. She took J-GQ’s hand and went from table to table: “This is Steve! Can you tell me what his name starts with?” He would respond, “S!” People got the biggest kick out of it! And I was wondering what I was going to do.
When he was about 2-1/2, I took him with me shopping. Just on a fluke I said to J-GQ as I pointed to the checker’s nametag, “What is this guy’s name?” He immediately said, “Dave!” His name was actually “Darrell”, but he was starting to put letters together. I knew at this point it was time for me to teach him to read. Man! I’d never done anything like that before and didn’t know where to start!
So, a friend of mine suggested I buy the “Bob Books.” I bought them and began teaching him. He picked it up so easily. In fact, when I entered him into preschool at that age of 3, the teacher would put him on her lap and have him read the story books to the other children. Many of the other kids would tell their moms, “Mom, I want to read like J-GQ!”
When he was 4, we were riding in the car and I saw the billboard for the new Jurassic Park movie. I told J-GQ, “We need to go see that new Jurassic Park movie!” (not thinking that it was not meant for his age group). He said, “No, mom…that’s too scary.” I said, “Oh, yeah, you are right. There are probably going to be some velociraptors and T-Rex’s in there.” He was quiet for a second and then said, “Mom, why do they call it Jurassic Park?” I said, “What do you mean?” And he said, “Cuz those guys are from the Cretaceous Period, not the Jurassic Period.” My jaw dropped to the ground, and I went home to see if he was right. He was. He had been reading his dinosaur book on his own. I never read anything to him anymore since he liked to read it all himself. I sort of felt like a bad mom and that I missed that special time with him because I didn’t spend a lot of time reading with him. He, however, would come into my bedroom when I was sick and sit at the foot of the bed and say, “Mom, can I read you something?”
That was just the reading part. When he was about 3-1/2, he was playing outside with his buddy, Max. He came and yelled through the window…”Mom, what time is it?” (We always asked him if he needed to take a flight or take a pill because he would all of a sudden stop in the middle of what he was doing to as the time.) I said, “It’s 3:55 and you need to come in in about 20 minutes.” He said, “OK, mom — I’ll be in at 4:15 then!”
I wanted to put him into kindergarten early because I knew that he was ready for it. However, the State that we were living in at the time did not allow children to enter kindergarten under the age of 5. However, they did have a gifted preschool program that he could get screened for. They did try to discourage me from taking him in for screening, though, saying that only 1% of children get into this program. I was pretty discouraged about that — until I remembered “Treat him like he’s smart…” I took him into the prescreening, and after a few minutes the lady administering the test came out and said, “OK! I’d like to have him scheduled to take the full screening test. I asked him if he knew what an electrical outlet was and he pointed to the outlet on the wall and read the sign above it which read, ‘Parents, please replace electrical outlet covers.’ That’s enough for me.”
I first knew that J-GQ was musical when I would practice singing “My Funny Valentine” to him as my audience while he was sitting in his bouncy seat — before he could talk. He would look at me like he “got it”, and would jump up and down with joy his little seat. It’s almost as if he wanted to break out in song.
J-GQ would like to play around on the piano in our home and is in no way a “prodigy”, but did show a wonderful love of music early on. When he was 5, I started him on piano lessons and he loved “Aunt Lo-wa” (Laura). She made music fun for him and when he was 7 he performed both the “Pink Panther Theme” for his elementary school talent show, and also the full version of “Fur Elise.” I really didn’t know (honestly!) if this was typical or not until I started teaching piano myself.
When J-GQ got into Jr. High he decided to take up the saxophone. He has so enjoyed it, and is in the Jazz Band as well as the Marching Band now that he is in high school. But, he has much more passion for the piano. He is teaching several students himself and picks things up so much easier than I ever have. Even though he prefers jazz saxophone, he loves classical piano. He is also arranging video game orchestral music to be performed on the piano.
I love the fact that J-GQ and I can collaborate. However, he has “pushed back’ quite a bit with me regarding my “chord book” because of the fact that I am “his mom.” He has reluctantly learned from it, but just recently came clean and said, “Mom, I have to admit — I’m now starting to think ‘in chords’.” It is serving him well, but I have to keep on him and remind him that just because I am his mom doesn’t mean that what I have to offer isn’t cool. I think he’s getting it. Little by little. I think, as he gets older, that he is appreciating more of what I have to offer him, and really understanding how much I really love him and have his best interest at heart.
I am in no way a “Tiger Mom“, but I’m so thankful that my child has offered me grace as I’ve raised him. I know that all moms sometimes see themselves as “bad moms” and have done things that they regret. I know I have. Things I’ve said or ways I’ve reacted or how I’ve said things bring me to shame when I think about it, and I’ve had to say “I’m sorry” numerous times.
It can be a challenge raising a child, and I have to be honest and say that my insecurities show as I do so. How a child responds to your lead is a “crapshoot”. However, I have to believe that I am this child’s mom because God put me in this place. And that is a good place to be.
So, moms, whomever God has given you as a child is his special gift for ONLY YOU. YOU are the only one that God saw fit to raise that beautiful child or children of yours. And remember this: God cares way more about that child than you can, and will walk you through every single second of his or her life.
God bless you as you raise your wonderful, beautiful, talented, smart, creative, joy-giving, unique children! Sometimes it is confusing, overwhelming, difficult, scary, surprising, and humiliating, but it is ALWAYS REWARDING! AND remember this one thing – GOD SMILES ON YOU!
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MOMS!
P.S. And, now I’m going to go enjoy that Creme Brulee that J-GQ has made for me! Happy Mother’s Day to me!