More Fuss Birthday

Pictures are illuminating but feel like a cheat- I'm much more a writer than photographer and the celebratory barrage ought to carry a literary payload of more than a few dashed off captions.

I'm always going on about how hard he is, but that's more us than him.  He's already exactly who he's going to be- to know him right now is to know him always.  And that's a difficult yoga, having an adult presence and vision in the body of a child, surrounded by adults with their own opaque pressures and problems.  Once I introduced him as 'the little man' to a casual friend who made a well meaning but fundamentally misguided comment about reinforcing gender stereotypes and projecting masculine hopes onto boy children.  Which happens, but with Fuss it's more like going to the beach, gazing out at the vast body of water stretching past the horizon and and calling it 'the ocean'.  Some things just are what they are.

Kids in general are less malleable than society would like & leads the gullible to believe.  Fuss is an extreme case, but even the 'easiest' children of my acquaintance have their bedrock convictions which demand respect lest The Kraken be unleashed.  The prevalent notion that children are like pets, biddable, trainable little homunculi who's main purpose is to gratify parental egos by hitting their developmental marks and minding their masters well is as old as civilization, and like many Utopian notions creates a poisonous ecosystem when enacted in the real world.

I often credit Fuss with teaching me as much as I teach him, and mostly he's shown me how hollow, destructive and inhuman are the accepted childrearing practices of our great nation.  Most of our struggles with him stem from trying to wrestle him into a social space he wanted nothing to do with (and that was a poor fit in any case), or trying to rush him forward to this or that milestone, or slow him down from what we perceive as overreach.  What I've found after five exhausting years is that he mostly knows what's best for him and that life is much more companionable when I listen to him, hear what he has to say and take it seriously.

The tricky part with kids is that you can't always do this because sometimes it isn't possible or feasible or affordable or whatever, and sometimes they're just screwing with you, and sometimes the vagaries of life require you to pull parental rank and dictate outcomes regardless of the cost in domestic tranquility and youthful empowerment.

But sitting here on birthday number five, Fuss has more than paid me back for all of my effort and struggle.
In learning to see him clearly, knotty, thorny, contradictory little man that he is, I've learned to see all children clearly.
And to see a child clearly is to love them.

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