Acceptable Behavior

From my book, The Mural & The Maker...

Some days when Elias is restless during his nap time, I will lay down with him. I try to quiet his mind while I lay still and pretend to yawn. Usually my yawning trick is contagious and it will help Elias fall to sleep quickly. But not today.

Today my cheeks were being squashed by his curious little hands. Then his leg was stretched across my stomach and somehow his foot found its way up to my face. I keep my eyes closed while I put his foot down next to the other. While I’m pretending to sleep, I peer through my eyelashes and watch his delighted face as he watches his hand bounce up and down on my padded bra. His intrigued face makes me laugh, and he laughs too. And we both feel a little rebellious for laughing when we are supposed to be sleeping. His smile, it gets me every time. 

His little head rests on his pillow and he looks at me like he wants to tell me something. In this moment, words don’t matter. He loves me. He needs me. He turns his head away. His breathing slows down. I kiss his head and breathe in the scent of his soft brown hair. I think about how our day began. I remember how the morning was hot as we walked up to his school. We were close to his class when he felt the need to drop to the floor and press his tongue to the cement. I told him to stand up and put his tongue in his mouth. And while I’m teaching him to act socially acceptable, he his smart and wants to lay on the cool cement. Standing in the heat doesn’t make sense.

Everyday I am challenged to think differently. My mind gets lost in what is acceptable and what others expect. I feel the weight of teaching Elias how to act in public and home so that he will be more accepted and have more opportunities. When really, I would have loved to lay on the cool cement with him. A few others might have joined us too, but we can’t. Something holds us back from what makes sense. 

Elias feels a freedom that I forget I have. He doesn’t think about what others are thinking, he does what makes sense to him. I love this about him. I am relearning how to be free. I am realizing how locked up and trapped I can be. When I am happy about my hamburger being set in front of me, I want to show my excitement. When I feel like dancing, I want to dance. When I need to cry, I don’t have to cover my face and be embarrassed. The laughter, the crying, and the dancing, it’s all a part of our intricate emotions. It’s how we were made. When we feel, others will feel along with us. 

If something makes sense, if I need to tell someone how much I appreciate them, I can do that! I don’t need to worry about what is acceptable and appropriate. I don’t need to look around to see who will notice my tears. Elias is paving a way for me. He doesn’t know it, but he is helping me be a better mom. When my oldest son notices that Elias is yelling with excitement and disturbing the whole restaurant because his hamburger and fries was put in front of him, and he looks at me to see if it’s ok to yell too; I yell and clap, because I want him to know that it is good to be excited about the little things in life. Sometimes you need to yell and clap to wake up the acceptable and appropriate. Sometimes there is a better way of life than keeping everything inside. 

I laugh as I think about the people who will enjoy life more because of my son. And when his is happy I will dance along with him. When he experiences sadness and people watch his pain, I will cry with him and let his tears soak through my shirt. And when it is hot outside and the cement is cool, I will lay down next to him. 


© 2014 Natalie Falls