Learning the Hard Way

Img_2035James didn't see the car coming.

Our car, parked in the driveway, blocked his view of the street. He sat down on his skateboard and prepared to glide down the driveway.

The boys wanted to ride bikes and skateboard on our residential street. All the kids in the neighborhood play baseball, ride bikes and practice skateboard tricks in the street because most of the houses in this downtown area do not have yards. The Mateo was outside supervising them. We've reviewed the safety rules many times. When they ride bikes or skateboard, one of us is always outside with them.

But accidents happen. Children make mistakes. Sometimes, children break the rules.

Before The Mateo could shout for James to stop, he was rolling down the driveway, out into the street.

I was inside the house clipping coupons when I heard the sickening screech of brakes. Then, silence.

The car did not hit him. But it almost hit him.

James entered the house sober-faced and shaken. The Mateo, ashen-faced, followed James into the living room.

There was a long, quiet discussion on the couch about looking both ways, and how you never get to just ignore that rule. I hope it made an impression on James. But I'm not sure.

See, here's the thing with James: all he hears is blah-buh-blah-buh-blah. James has insisted on learning things the hard way. He doesn't believe anything until he's proved it for himself.

The positive is that he's an independent thinker. The negative is that he could kill himself in the process.

That's my shaving razor, don't touch it, I said when he was three. He touched it. He cut his thumb.

Now before you call me a negligent mother, understand this, I would agree with you... before I had James.

James is what my mother calls ultimate payback. I was the rule-breaker, the challenger, the questioner, the toucher-of-hot-curling-irons-rules-be-darned.

His teachers say it is a sign of his intelligence. I say it's a sign that I'm going to die of a heart-attack before I'm 40.

Today I was asking myself if there was any way the near accident could have been prevented. I am convinced there is not. Sure, we could move to the country where the chances of getting hit by a car are lower. But then James would be injuring himself by doing whatever crazy thing it is country kids do.

The problem, I realized, is not outside James. It is inside him. James needs internal self-control. James needs to think before he speaks, act instead of reacting, question with discernment not disrespect and obey with reason.

Clearly, I have met my match.

Any tips? Please share.