back to school identity SuperBug

Of Cereal, Milk, and Phases ( a long read)

Well, school has been back in session for a week in our household.  For the most part, it has been a wonderful experience.  We are fortunate that our little one loves school.  SuperBug is in love with his teacher, is a huge fan of reading, and is really looking forward to learning new things this school year.  He started off his first week of school with new lessons and brand new experiences.

This year, I am able to follow his daily progress through an app called Class Dojo (see There’s An App for That, post).  I am able to interact with the school on a more personal level thanks to increased user interfaces through his school’s website.  I am also having fun learning new things with my son.  Call me old, but when did the Earth get a 5th ocean?! (Whatev, don’t act like you knew that!).   

It’s been also been a new season of testing limits.

More than anything in the world during a new school season our SuperBug looks forward to breakfast sandwiches.  Yes, an oooey, gooey, cheesy, bit of yummy nestled between a warm biscuit or English muffin with savory sausage and a general all-is-right-with-the-world feeling is the favorite get-ready-for-school-and-out-the-door treat for Mister SuperBug.  He calls them “his” sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches.  He loves them pre-made or homemade.  This year, I’ve not yet had time to go into the kitchen and perform the still relatively new cycle of preparing the breakfast treats from scratch. SuperBug hasn’t complained about this fact because he has been patiently waiting and anticipating the day when his breakfast treats would come.  I am certain you can imagine his delight when his father picked up a large box of the local grocery store.

A new year comes with some new…discussions

Of course, SuperBug could not wait to indulge in his favorite thing in the world.  All the way home he spoke of how great his breakfast was going to be when he went back to school in a couple of days. (The grocery trip was on a Saturday evening).  However, Superbug forgot there was a slight hitch in his plan.  Our family recently opened milk that needed to be consumed first.  We were almost finished because I enjoy cold cereal for breakfast even when while my Superbug eats warm apple cinnamon oatmeal or pancakes.  But the recent opening on milk meant that SuperBug would have to wait until he’d consumed a couple of more bowls this week before we opened the sandwiches.

FatherWinter had already told our Superbug that he would have to have cereal on Monday morning. Monday morning arrives and, after my husband had already left for work, here comes a sad-faced, sad eyed SuperBug.

SB-“Mommy, I really want to have a breakfast sandwich.  I’ve had cereal everyday for the last month and I’m tired of it.”

WM- “Really?  Hmmm…that’s odd, sweetness because I distinctly remember your having apple cinnamon oatmeal every morning last week at your insistence.  And the week before that you had Toaster Strudel or pancakes or Nutri-Grain bars because you had things planned for your last week of summer.”

SB- “Well, not every day, but I really don’t want cereal.  I don’t like it at all. And Daddy says I have to eat it.”

WM- “Why did Daddy say you have to eat it?”

SB- Because we have opened milk in the fridge and it doesn’t make sense to open new things when we have other breakfast things to eat. But I really want to have the breakfast sandwiches”

WM- “Guess what, honey?….I agree with your father completely.

SuperBug was completely outdone by this turn of events as I suspect he thought I would be on his side after watching a similar incident between family members only the day before.  I lovingly reminded our Superbug that even though he didn’t agree with or like the directions that were given to him by FatherWinter, coming to me to try and get me to go against him was not a good thing.  I reiterated that neither his father nor I would ever direct him to do anything that was not in the best interest of him or our family as a whole.  That was when a very rarely seen burst of frustration erupted.

His voiced raised an octave higher than I allow and I immediately stopped the conversation, had him adjust tone, and then explain to me in a better way why he was so frustrated.  Our discussion was that he was very disappointed that he would not get to have something that he’d looked forward to for such a long time.  While it may have seemed small to some, it was big to him and he felt as if his desires weren’t taken into consideration.

I explained that he was only partially right.  We were not concerned with his particular request for breakfast sandwiches this morning because we were focusing on family’s needs as a whole.  Neither his father nor I were trying to be ogreish but ours was not a request, but a direction.  He needed a full belly to concentrate in school before lunch.  We needed the milk consumed by ourselves and him before it expired.  His wants would have to be put aside and obedience would have to follow.

SuperBug wasn’t happy, but he ate his cereal and milk…and proceeded to give me semi-silent treatment as I watched him prepare to leave the house to walk to the bus stop. He did remember to give me a hug (sideways) and a kiss (air), but to return the I love you that is a must in our household.  [And] Even after I called him back to retrieve a hoodie to ward off the drizzle, that I love you stood strong.

I watched our little one climb the bus steps and then I turned and wished my mother in law and Honeybee, who was resting comfortably within her crib, a warm farewell as I left for work….

When I returned from work this evening, I was greeted at the door with a warm “Mommy!!!!” and a big hug and kiss.  I was thrilled to receive it.  SuperBug wanted to help cook and had completed all his chores.  I knew that part of this was because it is the day’s routine, part was the desire to watch the game, and part of an apology.  I simply asked our son if he had a good day.  He assured me he did, gave me a kiss, reiterated “I love you, Mommy”, and went off to be a seven-year-old boy.  Awesome 🙂

As I sit here now and think about all that transpired this morning, I recognize some of the frustration was SuperBug’s struggle to identify who he is and whom he will become.  He is growing up.  He is learning and practicing values, experiencing the world in all its…stuff.  It’s a new year with new opportunities to do the right thing for the right reason in front of an entirely different group of peers who may or may not share his thought process.

SuperBug has told me on occasion that some of his friends/peers think our family as “old-fashioned”, especially me.  We still require our son to say “yes sir/ma’am” and “no sir/ma’am”.  He is taught to hold doors, be a great big brother, and an even greater young and respectful child.  We encourage our son to respectfully dialogue, to talk candidly with us in a respectful manner.  SuperBug understands that we are his parents, not his friends.  Our job it to make sure he is safe, protected, well cared for, and loved.  We have friendly interactions, but we are family and there is a hierarchy.  We’ve noticed that some of his peers have different interactions. [And] That is perfectly okay if it works for their family.  For us, we do things a bit differently.

It lets me think of the identity questions that our Honeybee will one day have.  While she will always know that she has birth parents who have loved her so much that they allowed her to be loved by someone else, I know that she will have questions about why she likes, thinks, feels, and enjoys certain things and places. She may wonder if her birth parents did/do things that way we do.  How they celebrate special occasions. How they interact with their families.

I wondered similarly when I was a child and my journey was simply a child raised by a great-grandmother in a single-parent home.  I recognize the identity phase.  I can only imagine what could possibly be there for our Honeybee.  I’m actually looking forward to the journey.  One thing is for certain…no matter what, our family, all of us, will advance into that chapter in LOVE….TOGETHER.


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