This summer I cried in front of an 11 year old.
A boy with blonde, wavy hair and a good heart.
A heart that was being pulled in ten thousand different directions.
Blame it on the hormones that are beginning to flood his body and confuse the hell out of him.
Blame it on the kids that give him attention when he is the “boss”, the bully with the coolest clothes and the strongest free throw shot.
Blame it on his parents who are constantly fighting at home, his puppies screaming at nearly every sound in earshot, or his chores piling up at home by the minute.
Whatever the cause, I knew this wasn’t really him who got me to the point of tears. It wasn't really him who was yelling at me at the drop of a pen, talking back to me every chance he got, and saying all kinds of hurtful, unimaginable things to the other kids.
But I simply couldn’t take it anymore.
So I asked him what was wrong.
“You’ve been talking back a LOT lately.”
His voice, soft.
His eyes wide.
He said he had a "lot of stuff going on at home".
And I believed him.
I can’t imagine what it’s like for an 11 year old boy to see a 20-something babysitter at the steering wheel, crying. I would guess it's probably confusing and scary to a degree.
A loss of control.
A loss of stability.
It throws you off, changes your tone, your body language, your confidence level.
This was my honest expression, the raw and rigid overflow of stress coming out of the corners of my eyes. This was me taking off my mask for a minute, and not really by choice.
It was real.
It was… me.
As adults, we want so badly to be “in control”, to have it all together, no matter who is watching or what is being said. But I was reminded this summer that I simply cannot do that. I don’t know how to hold it together sometimes when kids are yelling at me, parents aren't answering texts, and I am not getting enough sleep.
At some point, I just break.
The mask is put aside and I stand face to face with the harder things in life.
The kinds of things that throw you off-step, kick you in the stomach and knock you down.
But here is the gift that was placed in my open palms during this difficult conversation in the car.
We are all human.
Whether we choose to accept that or not.
We are sand on the beach.
Tiny, gritty specks of sand.
Swept away by the wind.
Dampened by chairs, towels, and creatures of all kinds.
We are stepped on.
We are thrown around.
We are shaken off of towels and out of hair.
But together, we form a beach, a silent shoreline, a calm resting place for the healing salt water to return after a long, hard journey.
Sand is a beautiful thing, really.
Tears and all.