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Sometimes Our Children Surprise Us

Updated on October 31, 2020
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We don't always know if we're doing a good job as parents. That is, until our children exhibit wisdom beyond their years.

My brother came to be with my son the day after his dad died. My son's heart was on his sleeve and very vulnerable.
My brother came to be with my son the day after his dad died. My son's heart was on his sleeve and very vulnerable. | Source

My son wears his heart on his sleeve. Like mother, like son.

He’ll drop what he’s doing to help a friend in need. He’ll give his last $20 to someone who needs to get to an appointment but has no gas. He’ll take food to a friend who has nothing to eat.

He can make you laugh until your belly hurts and carry on an intelligent conversation with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

He’ll blow up in a heartbeat if you piss him off or hurt someone he loves. Expletives explode from his mouth like rapid gunfire when he’s had a bad day. He’s his own yin and yang. He has a temper and a heart.

He also has a very deep mind.

My son, at age 21, on his way to work.
My son, at age 21, on his way to work. | Source

Wisdom Resides in That Mind

Christopher will be 22 in a few days and he still lives with me. Some of you might think that’s crazy, but I don’t mind. He has a job and works his butt off. Although I’ve been married (and divorced) twice, it’s been pretty much me and him for most of his life. Now that he’s an adult, we’re comfortable in each others company. We communicate on a different level. Frankly, it’s comforting having someone in the house at night. For now, our living arrangement suits us both just fine.

Anyway, back to his mind.

Not too long ago, Christopher came home for lunch and we had the opportunity for the rare verbal exchange. You see, I’m usually in bed by the time he gets home from work, so we don’t often get the opportunity to talk. Even if I’m working on these occasions, I take a break to spend some time with my son, however brief it may be.

I can’t even remember what we were talking about on this particular afternoon, but the conversation turned to black and white. It wasn’t a racial discussion but that of issues. You know – the black and white and gray areas of life.

Or so I thought.

Whatever it was we were talking about, my son piped up with, “It’s not all black and white, Mom.”

“You’re right. There’s always a gray area”, I responded.

I was so floored by the astute wisdom of his retort that I had him write it down so I could share it with you.

This is what came out of my baby’s mouth:

“There is no black and white! There is black or white then there is the middle. Take that path to success!”

It was at that moment that I realized the wisdom of my son’s words and the depths of his mind.

Christopher in early JROTC. Is this when he discovered the "middle"?
Christopher in early JROTC. Is this when he discovered the "middle"? | Source

Let's Dissect That Statement

Substitute the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘left’ and ‘right’ for black and white. It doesn’t matter which color you assign them.

Now think. Rarely do we find a situation right and wrong – at least not as far as your own person is concerned. Same with yes and no, left and right. Our outlook is one or the other – not both. What’s in between black and white, yes and no, right and wrong is the path we choose to take in life. We don’t give in to one side or the other. We create the road to our destiny. We travel that road knowing it’ll get us to where we want to go because we paved it; not the loud nay-sayers and not the complacent followers.

We each have a vision and we pave the way, not letting anything get in the way. Sure, there will be twists and bends in the road. There’ll be pot holes and debris in the way. But as long as we focus on that middle – our self-designed path – we will succeed.

Another Perspective

Now let’s look at it another way. What is black and white? We all learned in science class that black is devoid of light. White is the absence of color. Philosophically, we may conclude that neither black nor white provides a guiding force because they both lack something in order to be viable. With that in mind, creating a middle between the two affords us a guiding force with which to help us achieve our goals. Otherwise, we wander aimlessly in the dark. Both black and white are created by an absence of a key ingredient: light or color.

Blend black and white and you come up with gray. Now it shows on the color spectrum. Gray is not the result of absence, but the blending of two voids that result in viability, much the same as two negatives make a positive in the world of mathematics. So, take that gray and create a concrete path that you can see and focus upon as the path to success.

Quotes on black and white, gray or success

“There is no black-and-white situation. It’s all part of life. Highs, lows, middles.”

Van Morrison

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

Margaret J. Wheatley

“Everything is not black-and-white. I’m interested in the gray area – not justifying it, not glorifying it, not condoning it, but at least having people see there’s a genesis for every event in our lives. There’s some divine order to it, whether it’s ugly or beautiful.”

Isaiah Washington

“I love the gray area between right and wrong.”

Dan Brown

“The color of truth is gray.”

Andre Gide

“Life is about the gray areas. Things are seldom black and white, even when we wish they were and think they should be, and I like exploring this nuanced terrain.”

Emily Giffin

After reading these quotes, I’m pretty proud of my son. He’s obviously taken the time to discover himself, his beliefs, and to forge a path for himself.

I read to my son every day since the day he was born. Why does he not share my love of the written word?
I read to my son every day since the day he was born. Why does he not share my love of the written word? | Source
My accounting skills brought home the bacon
My accounting skills brought home the bacon | Source

What We Instill in Our Children Has an Effect

It’s no secret that children mimic what they see and hear. For that reason alone, parenting is a hard job. It’s been documented that children are emotionally developed by the time they reach the age of five. They are little sponges, absorbing a lifetime of circuitry before they even hit kindergarten. Being a parent is the most important role any human being will ever take on.

How much of us are in our children? Sure, they may have the same eye color, hair color; even adopt many of our mannerisms. My son and I share many traits. We both speak up for ourselves. We both have tempers. We’re both loving people. We love animals, good food, good music, and good conversation. We both talk with our hands. (I can still hear my mother: “Shauna Lynn, if you didn’t have hands you wouldn’t be able to talk!”) We can both be argumentative. (“Shauna Lynn, you’d argue with a signboard if you painted it yourself!”)

We also have differences. I love to read. Christopher couldn’t be bothered. I keep a neat and tidy house. His room’s a pigsty. I’m never late for anything; in fact, I always arrive early. He’s late for everything. I keep a budget. He fails miserably in that aspect. (How is that even possible? I spent over 25 years in the accounting field!)

Yet, he has seen me keep our household afloat all of his life. Even when I had a husband, I was the one who brought home the bacon and fried it up, too. Is that where he’s discovered the middle road between black and white? The road to destiny? The road to dreams? Does he see me now struggling as a freelance writer and applaud me for finding that middle? Is that what has led to his inner thoughts regarding who he wants to be and what it’ll take to get there?

I’d like to think so, but I don’t think I can take the credit.

Look at all the kids whot grow up in shelters or with addicted parents or those who don’t take an active part in their kids’ lives. Those kids either follow suit or go in the opposite direction.

That tells me that our children have minds of their own. A part of who they are meant to be that we have no control over. A part of them that was theirs without – or in spite of – our help. We are each gifted with strength from the day we are conceived. Divine intervention? Perhaps. We parents who take our jobs seriously do the best we can.

What I’ve just discovered is we nurture what is already there. Our precious children are born as Gifts from God who already possess gifts of their own. They have something to offer no matter what part we play in their development. We do our best to give them a good start, but it’s really been pre-destined. We love them, guide them, cry with or because of them, share in their joys, punish them for misdeeds, put our dreams on hold to give them the attention they need…

And then – much to our delight - sometimes our children surprise us! We come to a point when we learn from each other. That makes the parent/child cycle complete and brings us to a new realm to discover.

To Christopher: I love you, my son. I welcome this next phase of our life journey.

How about you? Have your children surprised you? Have you learned something from them? Please share your story in the comments section below.

God Bless you and all the children of the world.



This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Shauna L Bowling


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