Lately, I have been finding that raising my 8-year-old son has become tiring, challenging and simply difficult.
I look at him some days and wonder who the heck is he?
Why is he acting the way he is acting?
Why is it impossible for him to listen to me the first time?
Why is everything an argument?
Why am I always yelling?
And why do I feel like he wins more of our battles than I do?
I know for sure that he has way more stamina than I have. He is an expert at nagging, repeating himself, and plainly just not giving up until he has worn me down.
I find myself relenting, changing my decisions, and saying yes.
When this happens, I feel like such a failure as a mom. We are told as parents, to stand our ground with our kids. And that No Means No!
What is wrong with me?
This is never how I imagined parenting would be.
In my mind, I would never be questioned.
Harmony would flow through my home.
And my son would listen and follow my lead without interjection and route changes.
Most nights, once he has fallen asleep and turns into my imagined angel, I review the day and tally up the score card.
Who won today?
Some days I have, but lately it seems he is.
Is it because he is getting older and is becoming more confident in his own thoughts and ideas?
Is it because I have taught him to question and investigate things as they present themselves to him?
Is it because as his parents we model very strong convictions and beliefs in the things we are passionate about?
And, is it that I am raising him to be able to believe in himself, and feel secure, so that being a leader will always be his goal and not a follower?
Yet somehow, all of the seeds I have planted have begun to sprout and take root against me!
Perhaps I am his ‘person’.
His place to practice all that I am trying to instill in him. But how do I balance building up his character without tearing it down every time he goes against me?
I am finding this so difficult.
Our most recent battle has been going on for the past month.
Full of confidence, conviction and courage, he passionately pleaded his case for why, at the age of 8, I should let him fly across Canada and visit our family for one month. Claiming that a month at our local daycare, that provides a summer program, would be beyond torturous for him.
My initial reaction was immediately….NO! Absolutely not! Have you gone mad? Are you nuts? You are way too young? Do you not know me at all?
Conversation is over, DO NOT ask again.
With the battle lines drawn and both of our heels dug and the trenches being built, the battle of wits began. And I must say I was very impressed, even though it exhausted me. I was impressed with his tenacity and persistence of this wish.
His arguments were sound.
His points were relevant.
His desire, sincere.
His bravery commendable.
So, after a month of discussion, (because he knew that arguing was getting him no where) and to everyone’s disbelief, he convinced me.
He will be going on a plane and spending a month with our beloved family.
My 8-year-old won.
And I was impressed.
Admiring his passion and persistence. Never relenting, and working his argument like a skilled litigator. Using every angle and saying what needed to be said to build confidence in me that he was ok to tackle this adventure without me by his side.
His confidence became my confidence.
So, here’s my thing.
I find that my knee jerk reaction is to always say no. And perhaps this is the problem.
No! You can’t go to that sleep over.
No! You can’t ride your bike around the block.
No! You can’t go to the skate park.
But what I normally realize very soon after my initial NO, is that I want him to do what he has asked to do, but fear rules me.
Fear of every possible thing that could go wrong with whatever he has asked to do. Fear that something will happen. Mostly, fear that he will get hurt. And my mind will conjure up every possible accidental scenario in my head. I try and rationalize that it is love and my protection of him. But no…it is fear.
So, because of this, I have created a cycle of debate and arguments.
My son rejects my first no, and proceeds with his arguments for the YES.
And once my initial fear has subsided and my rational mind sets in, I then can become very reasonable in my decision-making abilities.
But what has happened in my child’s mind, is that he sees me as very malleable. A person who bends and sways.
I guess what I am trying to figure out, is how bad is this parenting style?
I can justify it and say that I am a flexible parent. One that sees both sides of an argument.
A person, if presented with adequate facts is able to change their mind.
A mother who sees things in many shades of colour and not just black and white.
Don’t get me wrong. There are many times (most times) when my No is a No and that is final. But the times when I change my mind and reconsider my initial No, these are the times that stretch and expand my emotional mindset.
The days are gone when my son’s mind was mine. His mind is now his own…mostly. And he is using it. And that is not a bad thing at all. He is also making me use mine a lot more as well. He is teaching me, to think before I speak! Ha!
Before I say No, I need to stop and really know what my decision is. And if it is closer to a No than a Yes, well our minds will have to engage and compromise.
I guess this is just the beginning. The beginning of his independence.
Now the test begins to see how strong his roots really are while he is away and navigating his journey without his mom and dad.
I am actually looking forward to seeing how this will shape him, and if he will be different when he comes back.
More grown up…
Maybe some of his teeth will have grown in during this month.
What stories will he tell me?
But most of all…I secretly want to know that he did well. That he remembered what I taught him and that he appreciates and realizes why sometimes when I said No it was for the best.
I will miss him every day. And my wish is that no matter where he is, as he begins the first of many adventures in his life, that he knows he is always loved and cherished by ‘his person’- Mom.