Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Oh Sonny Boy

I have 2 children. They are both the offspring of Mr. T and myself. They look alike, they act like, sometimes they even annoy alike. In my analysis thus far, Daughter exhibits the traits I like or accept in myself. Son exhibits the ones I have issues with.

I've talked about him before and will continue to do so not just because it's my blog and I'll whine I want to, but because this is how I process.

Daughter is moody, like me. It doesn't bother me.
Daughter isn't really a morning person, like me. I respect that.
Daughter has a fiery temper, like me. Son fears her at times. I just smile in recognition or else put her in her place.

Son is picky. I never called myself this but yeah, I like what I like and forget the rest. Still, I want him to be open because I wish I had been braver about things when I was younger.
Son is dramatic. Don't really see myself this way but that fiery temper tends to be my response to things sometimes and certainly that is over the top.
Son is slow to accept change. This could be related to the pickiness. I'm cool with change that I initiate. Otherwise, I may need a minute to readjust.

If you put my two baby bears on a rainbow and gave them a color, Daughter would be red and Son would probably be blue. So why do I clash more with my blue Son? Still figuring that out.

I admitted to a friend not too long ago that I prefer dealing with Daughter because she's easier for me. Ironic, considering I never wanted a daughter in the first place for fear we'd be too much alike and fight all the time. Son is actually easy to love. He's sweet, respectful, sincere, affectionate, smart, and when you really think about that whole pickiness thing, I suppose it shows he's strong-willed too. Who can't like those qualities? Well, those aren't the things that get to me.

Before you tell me not to compare my children, I tell you I already know they are individuals and to love them for who they are, blah blah blah. The fact is Daughter is brave. I wish Son were moreso. So many times things have come up that I am certain he would have liked if only he weren't so afraid of new things. When Daughter gets stressed, she gets angry. I suppose that is an emotion I understand so it doesn't bug me as much, though I do tell her she'll get nowhere with it. Son, on the other hand, cries and whines and repeats himself over and over and it nearly drives me nuts because of the relentless repetition of it all. If something doesn't make sense in his homework, he whines for help (I really never liked whining.) and there is this whole begging thing in his voice that grates on my nerves. I want to tell him to man up. Stop whimpering. Just say you don't get it in a normal voice. (I told you I know he's 8. Doesn't change how I feel.)

Now, I don't make things easy on them, I confess. When it comes to homework, I don't hand out answers like candy on Halloween. I say, "Look at it again. Read it again. Tell me what you understand. Tell me what you don't understand. Look at the homework in its totality. Is there nothing there to clue you in as to how you should get your answer?" (Generally, this is related to math homework.) Unlike me, Son is a linear thinker and that is something I don't know what to do with. If he knows one way to get an answer, then that is what he does forever. The moment the numbers change order or the math turns to words, all hell breaks loose.

"Son. You CAN do this. Stop. Think. Read it slowly. Doesn't some of this look familiar?"

"I don't know! I can't do it!"

Wanna get me riled up? Tell me you "can't" when you haven't even tried.

So I get stressed and wonder how to teach him how to think creatively. How do I convey that there is usually more than one way to get an answer. 9 times out of 10, when I come home to that unfinished homework he says he can't do, I ask questions, I say what I said before and suddenly he can do it after all. Still, he doesn't realize yet that he CAN do it if he tries and that all I ever ask is that you at least try before you give up. Don't immediately jump to how you can't or how it won't work or how it's not exactly how you thought it should be so it must not be the right way.

My struggles with him is in his confidence. I get angry when he downs himself, saying he's stupid or doesn't know how to do things. "I don't like math because I can't do it." But he can! Even his teachers from every single grade so far say he can. Now, I tell him he may not like it, and that's fine but he can't do it? He's lying to himself and needs to cut it out.

I suppose my fight with him is not about today, it's about tomorrow. I'm afraid he won't see what I see - a smart, creative kid with so many natural abilities if he'd let himself be aware of them. I fear he'll be a follower. Sometimes you have to but never at the expense of your own will and morals. I'm scared he'll miss out because he's suspicious of new things. When we have our shouting matches - well, me shouting, him whining - I'm pretty sure he's in the moment. I keep thinking of what today's insecurity could develop into if I don't snap him out of it. But the counselor in me also is aware that I have to be here and just make myself chill out and embrace the boy of today lest he think I don't like him for who he is. Couldn't be further from the truth. It's who he is that I see so clearly. But right now it is masked by the qualities that need refinining. And that remains the challenge - setting aside my ways so I can deal with his effectively and shine a spotlight on the things he has yet to appreciate.

It's simply not easy for me. Don't be surprised if I vent some more on the topic one day. I know all of this frustration on my part risks our future relationship, at least during those teen and early adult years when so many people are coming into their own and don't know what they don't know yet. I know that I risk giving him some sort of complex maybe or driving him into himself because he thinks I don't accept him.

Still, in all my frustration, it is easy for me to tell him how great he is and in my imperfection, I can only pray that he will one day see that all I ever wanted was the best for him and we'll finally reach a place where he too fully loves himself as much as I love him. He's my first-born after all; the one who showed me that being a parent is an honor and receiving the love of a child is a privilege. He's the one who started me on the path to enjoying simply providing for him because it made me feel good to see him healthy and happy and content to just be my son. The last thing I want to do is jeopardize all that but I have my signs. I listen out for the familiar, "Hug and kiss. I love you" that I get every night before he goes to bed. He insists upon it, in fact. That's how I know we're still in the game. I intend for us to win it.

No comments: