At 11.30 today Sebastian turned 12. I would love it if this post were a reflection on 12 years of parenting and how my little three haired solemn man has changed and highlights in our dozen years together, but right now, I can only see the cracks.
He had his idea as to how he wanted to spend the day. He wanted to be at home at 11.30 with Charles and me and his friend who was staying over. He was not pleased that Charles had to take Jasper to a playdate/birthday party at 11am, but Charles reminded him there were three other kids in the family and said he would be back as soon as possible. So he could be with Seb. Charles got it.
At 11.20 I asked Sebastian to run down the hill to take a bag of clothes to Jo. Jo had lent me some jackets for our upcoming trip, but remembered she needed them back for Clockenflap Music Festival. I knew they were leaving soon and so I offered Seb's services. Seb was not pleased. He said he wanted to be home at 11.30 and I told him he would be if he hurried. He turned to leave.
At 11.25 Charles returned and was surprised Seb was not here.
At 11.28 Seb returned crying. No, not hurt, but he had had to run ... so fast....because he wanted to be here for his birthday and now...he was all puffed...
And I got very cross with him. He had a friend over, stop crying, he had made it home for 11.30 so frigging happy birthday. How had he given the bag to Jo's son??
This is a great example of how my little pieces do not get a good mother.
I do not have the special needs that make Seb the very complex, but very straightforward person he is. And I did not stop to try and consider why wanting to be home might be important to him, or even to honor the request, even if I didn't get it.
In my eyes, clothes needed to be dropped off soon - great - Seb could do it AND be home. Beating the clock would make him proud of himself (and very possibly get him interested in doing more training for the Cross Country team, which he is a member of but so far has not wholly embraced the training side of things.) I could only see the positives. That would have worked if his mind works like mine.
But it doesn't. Haven't I shared that 12, 24, 48 thousand times before? When WILL I LEARN.
My upset is not with him, but with how his actions reflect on me. I am on the phone with my sister and she is hearing my 12 year old bawling. He was abrupt when he gave the bag to Jo's son. That his friend would go home and tell his parents how Seb was freaking out on his birthday. His highly sensitive side would be very apparent.
My eyes could not see that this situation was of my own making and therefore the reactions I knew would come were also my fault. I chose to blame Seb and get angry with him because in my eyes, it was no big deal.
Seb's eyes are beautiful. He is crying because this was so important to him. Because I didn't listen when he asked to stay. That he didn't get to savour turning 12. Which was so important to him.
I'm not in despair, but I do need to apologise to him. Which I will. And I know he will forgive me. He always does, immediately. This boy does not hold a grudge and he loves so deeply.
And for a dozen years I have been trying to crack his (overly) sensitive soft personality? Why, because it;s so great being like me?
So he came home, I called him into my room and said I needed to apologise. His expression was clear, "For what?" I knew I was forgiven. But that wasn't enough. I needed to ask forgiveness.
I tried to explain, that I hadn't understood, that I hadn't taken the time to understand. I was just trying to not inconvenience a friend, and instead I started crying. Which as most of you know, is not something I do often. And my little man got alarmed, told me it was okay, he loved me, while Charles stood and put his arm on my shoulder.
I told Seb that although I knew I couldnt make it up to him, that I would love to have a midnight feast tonight, and we will drink a fizzy drink and I will tell him about when he was 12 hours old, instead of 12 years ago. He liked that idea.
If this birthday sticks out in his mind - I wonder which version of me he will remember? The impatient mother who didn't understand? The mother who asked forgiveness? The mum who arranged the midnight feast? Or the mum who tried to make it right?
Because I am all of these women, and a dozen more.