I love my Tyler. He is my first born and exudes most of those qualities. He is a perfectionist, a leader, a control freak, and has the best sense of humor. He rarely fails at anything. I have bragged on him before (here, here, and here). He just blows me away on a daily basis. He is, our first born, and always will be. He is special because he is ours.
One of the hardest things about being a parent is watching on the sidelines as they experience any type of emotional or physical pain. Those moments have no words in the English Language. Time stands still, you hold your breath, waiting to see their reaction. Wishing it was you experiencing that pain.
Recently, we had one of those moments with Tyler. Or I should say, we had to sit idly by as he endured a few seconds of this pain alone. Tyler had been anticipating the County Spelling Bee for weeks. (I dressed him nice, apparently too nice-every one else was wearing jeans) and we said a prayer before we left. He was excitedly nervous. I could tell, I'm mommy, that's in the job description, right? He got in line to start spelling, each child that went before him successfully spelling their words. As luck would have it, one of his favorite friends was in the Bee with him. Right in front of him. I could see the butterflies in his stomach begin to take flight, the serious look in his eyes, the nod that he understood the speakers instructions, and not a smile to be cracked. From across the room, his cheering team, gave him thumbs ups and smiles. It was his turn. "Fox", the speaker said, then she used it in a sentence. "F-A-X". Time stopped. Everyone froze, including the judges. We were all in shock. Surely he had spoken so quietly that I had misheard him. He knows that word. It's in the title of one of his favorite books. He didn't really say "A".
Then, the judge shook her head no. The other judge spelled the word correctly. "F-O-X". Fox. Then time sped up, must have been to catch us up with reality, the next second he was in Dan's arms sobbing. It was over. He had been so excited, so much had been leading up to this one event. And in a flash, it was all over. He was devastated. Tyler has always been great at anything he attempted, and not being the best is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. We do our best to prepare him, talking about feelings and telling him our only request is that he does his best. That wasn't his best, and he knew it. Our words of encouragement before the competition were suddenly turned against us. We were not disappointed in him. But he was disappointed with himself, and that was so much worse.
We had to sit and wait until there was a break, he sobbed the entire time. He finally crawled on my lap, eyes closed, head buried in my shoulder. When we were finally able to leave, along with many other sobbing children, he headed straight for the car. He turned his head from everyone that tried to speak to him. That's how my Tyler deals at first. He wants his space to gather his thoughts and then he can talk about it. Even though that is not how I deal with things, I have to respect that in him. He eventually comes around and wants to talk about it, but if you push him, you will get only the answers you want to hear and eyes that refuse to meet yours. We did our best to let him be, encouraging his brother to play outside and taking the other brother to the store to ensure some quiet. And he did come around. Some time alone, his favorite pal, Puppy (stuffed dog) and a few more cries later. He was ok. After all, kids are resilient, right?
But mommy is another story. I can't help but hurt for him. This first big fall, in front of his peers. One of many, I'm sure, but the first is always hardest. I am sitting in bed, wishing I had the power to turn back time. Would I say anything different? Would I have not told him to do his best, just in case his mind went blank? Would we have studied with him more? Would we have made it less of a big deal? I don't know. I just know that my heart aches for him. His sweet little body laying in his bed, cuddled with his Puppy, sleeping safe and warm. Praying our love and our prayers are enough to heal this scar. And hoping we are able to help him get back onto that horse again and let go, let him ride alone, even if it means he might fall again.