He’s smart. He’s handsome. He’s ridiculous. He’s loving. He’s generous. He loves to read. He loves to run. He loves to be the best. He has an easily bruised ego. He doesn’t always make the best choices. He has to learn the hard way…
… like his mom.
He’s my son. His name is James, and as much as I try not to label him, I still do.
Sometimes being a parent really sucks the big one.
We think parenting a toddler is hard, but honestly, the hardest thing about parenting a toddler is making sure they are still breathing by the end of the day. In the long term, who really cares if your kid can recite the alphabet song before they are two or if they are still pissing in their drawers when they are three?
When they’re tiny, it feels like these things are so critically important that your whole parenting reputation could be broken upon them.
Then your kid, who is certainly old enough to know better, steals a coveted toy from his friend, lies about it, and has to be put in a four-figure leg lock in order to get the truth out of him.
All your delusions of your child’s perfection are shattered and you realize – holy shizzledizzle! – they really are human and not the second coming of Christ like you thought they might have had the potential to be.
You research the Seven Deadly Sins and realize that your child might indeed be prone to all of them.
Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, Gluttony.
Well, maybe not Lust – at least not yet. Criminitly, he’s only six. Though I’m sure he’ll succumb to that one too, in time.
It’s terrifying that someone might label your child a “bad” kid. A problem child. Uncontrollable.
Lessons like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” are helpful once you’ve taught them from seven billion different points of view.
Forcing them to prostrate themselves in front of their friend to apologize drives home the lesson a bit.
Grounding them from their favorite activities for a period of time reinforces the seriousness of their actions.
But did he learn his lesson? I don’t know. He wants to be like Luke, not like Anakin, so I think our Star Wars lesson was constructive.
Reflecting, I remembered when James was three years old and he was going through a horrid carbs-only eating jag. I remembered how I kept telling him that when he was two years old he LOVED to eat carrots and peas and meat and all of the things he absolutely despised (Lies. All lies). Within a very short time, he suddenly started trying most of the foods he had refused not long before.
And this memory is how I obtained some perspective.
I’ve always been a huge believer in self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, when we label a person they become more prone to act as they have been classified. I’m human too, and sometimes my beliefs gets all muddled when I’m having heavy feelings about a particular subject.
James is a wonderful boy. He is not a problem child. Did he make a bad decision? Yes. Should he be punished forever? No. Will I make more of an effort to promote the wonderful traits he already possesses? Yes.
Will I blow sunshine up his ass for every slightly honorable thing he does if I think it will promote his trustworthiness in the future?
You’re damn skippy I will.