Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Really. How DO you do it?

My son hates me.

Well, no. That's overly dramatic. (Surprise!) My son doesn't hate me; in fact, he tells me every day how much he loves me. I still get to tuck him in. We have "No, I love YOU more" contests in the car.

(Here's where you're nauseated, if you're not a parent yourself or in some way invested in me/my son.)

Rather, in between these things -- and by that I mean for huge, tedious chunks of each day -- he acts like he hates me. It really sucks. Homework is a chore. Bedtime is a chore. Not wiping one's nose on one's shirt is a chore. Why we can't rescue every cricket on the planet is a major issue. Chores are really a chore.

I don't mean the usual "Oh, you know how it is; he never wants to do his homework" chore. I mean ridiculous. Epic battles. Beyond the bounds of reason. To the point where I have to completely abandon, at least for a moment, being his friend; where I have to turn all medieval and tell him, at the top of my lungs, where the rubber meets the road/how the cow eats the cabbage/how the third grader better do the freaking homework right freaking now if he wants to live to see fourth grade.

Naturally, I want him to develop his own identity. In a way, maybe it's my fault. I encourage talking about everything. I love explaining. I love being asked for explanations. I love receiving explanations. I'll talk all night long. I really kind of abhor the "because I'm the parent" conversation ender.

David is EXACTLY like me, in way too many ways. Meaning, he wants to talk and talk and talk, and if he hasn't seen the wisdom of a particular course of action, he wants to talk (read: argue) some more. Which would be fine, I really think it would, in an adult. I'm coming to realize, however, that this isn't so fine in an eight-year-old who simply doesn't always possess the faculties to understand the consequences of his actions. We reach an impasse every single night. He cries. I get aggravated. He argues. Digs his heels in. I yell. I feel awful. He says something -- usually some little, totally dumb kid thing -- and my feelings actually get hurt.

I know how to love my kid. I know how to keep him safe. I know how to set down the rules, and usually he follows them. He's brilliant, and funny, and kind. I know how to nurture all those things.

But I think I'm supposed to know how to fight with my kid. And win. And have him, at least sometimes, acquiesce cheerfully. I hate that he doesn't right now. HE hates that he doesn't.

I'm good at this. I'm a natural mom, at least until this thing. I'm not being facetious in the least when I say I totally suck at this part. How do you do it?

Please tell me this is just a phase. Please tell me there are more tranquil phases to come.

I'm supposed to be the one making this go the right way.

Because I'm the parent; that's why.


Amin said... Best Blogger Tips

Read itn with full interest prompted by your comment on the flickr image of that bug, and guess what? Suffice to say that just feels like you are writing about my own 7 year old :).

They do tell me its just a phase, and they do change. So sounds like we are going to ride this one off in a sort of same way :).


Jill said... Best Blogger Tips

Kimberly, this is the description of every child. Once he his puberty you'll want to slit your wrists. I think I put my parents through hell ten times over. Just be glad he's not a girl. It will all (somehow, don't ask) be worth it in the end.

Brian said... Best Blogger Tips

This really hit home! My daughter is so much like me that it's sometimes scary and infuriating. Your phrase "epic battles" is on the money. Weeping. Yelling. Gnashing of teeth. And yet, I think I understand her better than anyone could because I know why she acts the way she does. That doesn't make it easier to deal with. But reading your account of similar struggles helps.

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks, everyone. I'm sure it's not as big a deal (or as out of the ordinary) as I make it out to be. It's nice to get some perspective. I probably have been spoiled by how great he usually is.

Katherine said... Best Blogger Tips

Kimberly, just another 30-something Mom from flickr with an 8 year old who can only say "yeah that". My daughter is amazing and curious and funny as heck and quizzical and, sometimes, infuriatingly challenging. I think it's just a new branch in the road towards growing up.

Jessica said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh man, I had this long response all written up and it got eaten... But in a nutshell I wanted to say I remember a stage like that in third grade too! A stage where I didn't miss her QUITE so much while she was in school. I wonder if it HAS to happen, though, especially with kids like David and Emily, where they are like two peas in a pod with us. And maybe it's compounded by being an only child--maybe they HAVE to go through a stage to gather their independence about them a little bit, when in reality we are so close that sometimes it's hard to tell where she ends and I begin. She's going through it again a little bit now (she's 11), but in a slightly different way--she's coming up with some sassy answers that make my heart hurt a little bit (when I am not mad!), because it makes me feel like she loves me the tiniest bit less (though I know it's not true). I want her to be independent and to be able to assert herself when warranted, and I WANT to be the kind of parent who listens to a child's different viewpoint and actually CONSIDERS it. I want her to know how much I respect her. I don't want to be a "because I said so" parent. And she deserves that, because she is a good, sweet, smart, completely trustworthy and responsible kid. But sometimes, it IS simply because I said so. I don't need to argue with you about getting your homework done tonight, or that it's bedtime. It is, simply and succinctly, because I said so. And I love you more.

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Katherine: Thanks. "Infuriatingly challenging" is an apt description. It's good to know so many other people identify.

Jessica: Yes yes yes. I think you do totally get it. I think it was the ongoing-ness of it, day after day, plus the tiny-bit-hear-hurt, that got me. But I like to think we're both doing it right.