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Tough Love

Tough love is a painful go.

We have been struggling a bit with new patterns in our home, new routines in a new place.  Add a cold to spread through our family, and we’ve got ourselves some patterns of checking in on each other, making sure, and double checking once again.

Everybody okay?  Everybody still here?  Everybody still within arm’s reach?  Yes.  Yes.  And Yes.

I have one child who worries.  He is particularly needing much.

The last day of last week, he called me from school.  “Mommy, can you just come?”  And so I came.  We took a walk around the school and we listed everything we know for sure.  And then he was okay to return to his classroom, okay to finish the day on his own.

The first day this week, he called me from school, asking for medicine.  Admittedly, I had forgotten to give it to him that morning, so I came.  And then his breathing, coughing, and symptoms were a little more than we should share, so I brought him home with me.  That was the day I realized too late that he was really just fine.

I sent him to school the second day.  He called me from school, asking for medicine.  I stepped away from my work to come to him, with Motrin and a fresh water bottle of lemonade.  I gave him a hug, I tousled his hair, and I reminded him that he’s okay, and I would see him when the clock strikes 3:30.

He asked to come home with me.  I believe he is experimenting with a quasi-homeschooling plan.

I am not.

Today is the third day of the week.  He called me this morning.
“I need medicine.”
“Buddy, no you don’t.  You are just fine.  I promise you.”
“No, I need medicine.”
“No, you laughed and played all morning with your brother, and you are fine.  You really are.”
“Can you bring me a drink?”
“No.  We are not going to continue this habit.  If you want a drink at school, prepare your water bottle before you leave.”
“But I… I just …” I can picture him slapping his forehead, because this is what he does when frustration hits.
“Buddy, listen.  You are strong and courageous, and the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
“Why do you always say that?!”
“Because it is always true.  And I want you to know it.  I am always here when you need me, but you do not always need me.  You can be strong and courageous.”
“But… I… I just…”

He hung up on me.  We’ll talk about that later, about phone etiquette and what can’t ever happen, ever, ever again.  Hellos and goodbyes matter, even on the phone.

I called the school nurse, told her my predicament. My son is asking for help, but I don’t think he really needs it. I think he just wants a pick-me-up visit from his mom, and we can’t make this something he is dependent on.  Can you keep an eye on him?  Let me know if there is really, truly a reason to come?

Now he is sitting in his classroom, thirsty and angry, thinking I don’t care.

I do care, Sugar.  I love you more than you know.
And I am always here when you need me.
But you do not always need me.
Today, you need the victory of finishing the day.  

I’m raising a man.  A leader.  He is capable of so much more than he wants to be.

Tough love is a hard go.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. Oh, that does hurt! I’ll bet you can’t wait till 3:30, so that you can make sure that he really is ok (he really is 🙂 ).

  2. “Today, you need the victory of finishing the day.”
    I love that. Yes–tough love is hard. But you are so wise to know the victory he must pursue.
    Thanks for sharing.

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