I was talking to my son the other day and it dawned on me what an a-hole I am. Intellectually, I am able to recognize what an awesome kid he is – how accomplished and talented he is at such a young age. When I look at some of the skills he’s mastered and habits he has compared to others his age, I breathe a sigh of relief. But somehow I can’t stop nagging him about doing more, being better.
I don’t expect him to be perfect, so it’s not that – I am not looking for some kind of uber kid. I’m just looking to not be annoyed. But really, whose problem is that? It’s mine – I can (or should be able to in theory) control how and when I react to things he does, but I struggle. And then I take it out on him. Instead of trying to change my needs and perspective, I try to change him. This needs to stop.
Let me assure you that I’m not beating him or constantly screaming at him in an emotionally abusive way, but there is a low-level undercurrent of general annoyance and that’s not cool. I can tell he’s frustrated because it seems as though I am always disappointed in him. I’m not, but I can 100% see how he might feel that way. So what do I do?
I like to observe him with other people – it helps me see that he’s not annoying to others; he’s personable and open, and while he sometimes gets a wee bit out of control with other kids, he also brings a joy and happiness to any interaction. I think I also care a bit too much of what other people think. I’ve observed that most parents seem not to care at all how their or their children’s interactions impact others; I think I’ve gone too far to the other side and have made that a driving factor in how I view his behavior. Fuck people (sometimes) – he’s learning and having fun and I need to let that ride a bit more (within reason).
Anyway, I’ve decided that his short-term less-than-desirable behavior should absolutely take a backseat to his long-term emotional health and well-being, that he should see me as an ally and not someone he needs to try to make happy or not disappoint (constantly). Support and kindness are just as important to encouraging him to be “a nice, smart, kind person that people want to spend time with” as are reminders about manners and self-control. After all, no one is perfect…especially me, and he’ll never be either. But if I change my behavior, I’m sure his will evolve beyond my own which is comforting. I will never be his friend – and as his mother, I really don’t want to be – but I can certainly be more friendly.
Libby and her family enjoy camping trips that help them appreciate each other and their running water when they get home. You can reach her here.