Mom in the Mirror

Has your child ever done anything that reminds you of you?

My oldest son is entering puberty and his mood swings are becoming slightly more pronounced. He is a sweet and caring kid, but it doesn’t take much to set him off. He will lash out moving from being fine to not fine relatively quickly. Moments that are most likely to trigger this — someone cheating in a game (playground or soccer field), someone embarrassing him (this one’s tricky, because you’re never sure what’s going to embarrass him), or him not knowing how to do something right the first time (it doesn’t matter if he’s had instruction on what to do or not, he has this expectation he’s supposed to know everything and be good at everything).

Thankfully, we’ve had some amazing and caring adults (teachers, coaches, professionals) who have provided us with resources (their time, talent, books, etc.) to help him, but it’s still difficult to see your child struggle.

On a recent morning, I had a time table to get my son where he needed to be, and myself to work. My son, while aware we needed to get to various places, didn’t understand my urgency. He wanted to play a game for a few minutes longer and I couldn’t wait, I needed him to stop playing the game so I could get where I needed to go. I told him as much and he proceeded to express his dissatisfaction with me and how I was negatively impacting him and his day. It was an explosive burst of energy directed straight at me. I was not in the mood to receive it. I promptly shut the conversation down, shared my dislike for his tone of voice and took away his gaming privileges. Immediately following I realized I had to calm myself down.  I was going to have my own explosive outburst if I didn’t.

We rode in silence until we got to our destination. When we got out of the car, I didn’t want the silence to continue, so I said, “Hey, buddy, you know that I love you. I just don’t like how you talked to me back there. That wasn’t okay. I understand you are upset you couldn’t finish your game, but you can’t use that tone, or say those kinds of things to me.” He started to defend himself and his actions, I could have defended my position, but I’m his parent and I wasn’t interested in letting the direction of the conversation continue. “You had something you wanted to do. Mom has something she needs to do. I have to get to work. I couldn’t wait for you to finish your game.” He wasn’t happy but didn’t seem quite as angry as he was earlier. We parted ways, but I couldn’t help thinking about what happened. What was my role in all this? How could I help my son and I avoid this in the future?

It occurred to me that my son and I had something in common. As much as I’d like to think I’m a good communicator, my son reminded me that I’ve still got room to grow. And my son does too. Our situation happened because were weren’t communicating — our wants or our needs proactively. Because I’m the adult (and his parent) I could easily believe my needs always trump his — and while in many cases they do, that’s not always the case. My son should be able to voice his needs and wants. It’s not my job to cave to him, or give him what he wants, but to listen to him, allow him to be heard, and then make a decision. It would be easy to say my son has the issue, but this one goes both ways, and as the adult and parent, it’s my job to model behaviors I want to see from him. My hope is my son will continue to get me to revisit my interactions with him. Am I doing right be him as his parent? What can I work on to be better, and what can I help him getting better at?

My son forced me to look in the mirror, has your child forced you? If so, how did you handle it?

Small Victories — My Picker Eater

Do you have a picky eater in your family?

My youngest son is a picky eater. If it were up to my son, his diet would consist only of: bread, cheese, macaroni, chocolate, bread and chocolate (yes, I realize I put bread and chocolate in there twice). He will eat vegetables and fruits in very small quantities, but is reluctant to try new foods. We’ve had many discussions around eating foods that give us energy and help us live a long and heathy life, but my son’s not overly concerned (or particularly interested). At his age, I don’t think I was either.  It is common to hear him say, “No, thanks” when you ask him if he’s interested in trying something new, and common to experience a tantrum with him when you require him to try something new — we spend more time dealing with the tantrum – using logic, incenting, and then threatening consequences (and/or taking away privileges) than the actual time is takes him to eat the small portion. It’s very frustrating and can make me feel like a failure as a parent.

Imagine my surprise when we recently went into a local Subway to eat. Normally my son is only interested in their pizzas. If the Subway shop doesn’t carry the pizza, he’s not eating. Yet, on this particular day he did. “Mom, can I try a turkey sandwich?” he asked. “Sure, what changed your mind?” I said, trying to get over my shock. “I don’t know. What (my older son) gets looks good.” I decided not to ask any more questions, and instead ordered the sandwich.

Now, I have to confess that I was a bit concerned that when he got the sandwich, he would change his mind and say he didn’t like it after all, but that’s not what happened. Instead he took a bite and said, “This is AMAZING!” It felt like a small victory. My son was expanding his food universe and actually eating something that was relatively healthy (or healthier than the pizza would have been) and enjoying it. I was elated. As we walked back home from the restaurant he continued to comment on how much he liked the sandwich unprompted by me. “It tastes like the sandwiches grandma from Canada makes,” he said, “It was really, really good.” It made me smile (and I’m guessing it will make his grandmother in Canada smile too).

Maybe we’re turning a corner with our son, maybe now that he’s experienced something new he likes, he’ll be more willing to try new things in the future. Only time will tell, I’ll savor this victory for now.

How do you get your picky eater to try new things?

Growing, Growing, Gone

How did we get arrive at back-to-school time again?  Where did the summer go?

My boys are excited and dreading school starting at the same time. They are nervous for who their new teacher will be, and how the new year will be different from the last. Every year we go through this, it reminds me of my school days. I used to feel the same way.

This is my oldest son’s last year in elementary school and I can’t believe how time has flown. Didn’t he just start kindergarten a few years back? I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, but the thought of him entering middle school in a year is a bit much to take. He’s not a baby anymore, he’s becoming a young man before my eyes.

At a recent gathering of parents, one commented how much taller both my boys were. There are, I thought. Something I don’t often notice. Looking at sons friends, I could see how they were growing too. Growing up is more bit bittersweet than I appreciated. I want my children to grow and thrive, but there is a part that wants them to stay young forever. Any ideas on how to stop your child from growing? 🙂

They are growing. They will continue to grow, and one day (yes, the dreaded one day) they’ll be gone — off on their own. I have a much better appreciation for what my parents went through with me. Back to school marks my children’s progress in their education, and mine as their parent. Am I doing right by them? Are they getting the most out of school and out of their childhood? How am I doing in my journey as a parent? Am I teaching them all the things they need to know to be on their own in the world? Thankfully, I still have time. But at this rate, not as much as I’d like.

How are you ensuring your child gets the education (academic or life-wise)? How are you ensuring they learn everything they need to know?