My poor son, Jack.
He says to me, “No one is letting me be me.”
His eyes beg for sympathy, his lower lip eases out. He asks for a hug, and I open my arms with a heavy heart — my 8-year-old is hurting, and he needs me.
“What’s going on?”
“No one’s letting me be me.”
“Okay, but tell me more?”
“Like mom. … Tonight. … Not letting me …” Jack burries his face into my chest and mumbles, “pick my nose.”
“Jack. That was at the dinner table. You can’t pick your nose at the dinner table.”
“I’m not having this conversation with you. If you need to pick your nose, go to the bathroom. Nose-picking at the dinner table will always get you in the dog house. Always. And it would be a disaster on a date.”
We hug a little more, and then I ask, “Who else is not letting you be you?”
He tells me about school. Apparently, some of the rules and procedures and curricula don’t jive with my expressive, language-oriented, naturalist son.
Math? Don’t even go there.
Penmanship? The banal work of simpletons who obviously don’t care about more important things, like how volcanos happen or how the White Oaks Elementary “bug club” might someday undermine the world’s insecticide companies.
He says, “I wish school had just two subjects: talking and reading.”
I nod in concession. That would be nice. I must admit.