Monday, January 25, 2010

The Problem with Parenting.

The problem with parenting, at least on some days, is that it's a job you can't quit. No matter how much you want to.

Our J Boy has been challenging our parenting skills this month. So far we have had confrontations lots of negotiation/discussions over:

- doing homework
- brushing teeth
- going to swimming lessons.
- going to church
- putting on clean underwear.

I wish I was kidding about that last one. All of these things should fall in the why-do-I-even-have-to-remind-let-alone-talk-about-it category.

You see the J Boy has decided to undergo a personality makeover in 2010. He decided to put his natural charm and curiosity on the back burner and move uncontrolled emotions and irrationality right to the front. As evidence of the latter, I remind you of his willingness to pay $29 to be able to brush his teeth AFTER bedtime stories, but also tell you that yesterday he was willing to give up computer for 2010 if I let him stay home from church for one Sunday.

Remind me not to let him haggle on my behalf for anything in Jamaica.

He has also upgraded his Defiance 1.0 to the New and Improved Defiance 2.0 why-should-I-have-to-you-can't-make-me model that is very popular for the grade 3 set. He will say no just because he can. Or, and he actually told me this, just to drive me mental.

So we had a figurative knock-down-drag-out series of issues yesterday -- I will spare you the painful details -- but I was willing to text my resignation to the home office.

I lost my cool. I lectured. I cried. I laid a guilt trip. I doled out consequences. And I pouted. I wanted to pick up my marbles (to the extent that I hadn't already lost them) and go home. To the home where I can read a book not about parenting advice that doesn't work. And the home where I can light real candles without fear that an airborne accent cushion will ignite. And the home where I do not have to say every 10 minutes "don't jump on the furniture".

And then I hear a little voice from upstairs "Mommy, will you play Sorry with me?"

He wants me to play a board game with him??? After what he said??? And did??? Is he freakin' serious???

He heard me convulsing and says "It's okay Mommy, I'll play by myself".

Fifteen minutes later. "Mommy, I played a whole game by myself, are you available to play with me now? It's okay if you can't."

And I thought to myself we are not even halfway through raising this child. He's not an adult until 19 in this province. It was 11:00 a.m. and I did not know how I was going to get through the afternoon, let alone puberty.

I want to withhold my company from him. I want to take away what I know he wants. I want to withhold my love.

But I can't and I don't.

Parenting is about the long haul. The long term. The big picture. No matter how many times I get knocked down, I need to pick myself up, brush myself off, and start all over again.

So I dragged my sad little self upstairs for a game of Sorry. The double meaning in that is rich.

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