When I was young, no one would have guessed that I would one day be the mother of four kids. Not even me. Yet, here I am, knocking this whole motherhood thing right out of the park. Except on those days when I royally screw it up. That’s pretty much parenting in a nutshell though. We are all just hanging on by our fingernails.
No two kids are alike. And by the way, they do not come with owner’s manuals. So with each new child you are starting from scratch. They all have their own personality and therefore your relationship with each one will be different. Not to say that you love one child more than another. It just means how you parent them will vary.
Take my oldest son. I love him fiercely. But sometimes he makes me question whether my patience will still be in tact when we are done raising him. I wasn’t around when my husband was little but from what my mother in law says, he is his dad, except the 2.0 version.
My oldest son is strong-willed. And if you have a strong-willed child then you already know where I am going with this. I have no doubt that he is going places in life. But trying to parent strong will can sometimes be a challenge.
I want all of my children to be well-rounded members of society. It is important to me that they find activities and hobbies that interest them. And why wouldn’t you want to do things when you are young and your parents are paying for everything?
When Jack was too little to know that he held the power of protest, we signed him up for t ball.
He’s that kid not smiling on the front row. Last one on the right.
Instead of participating in the actual sport, Jack opted instead to remove his shoes and socks, sit in the outfield and throw dirt. Because the whole baseball thing was NOT his idea. My husband grew up playing sports and therefore he was insistent that baseball was in fact fun. So, we tried again.
He wasn’t amused that time either. My husband thought maybe that was just his game face.
We did get him to play soccer one season. And he did make it to a green belt in Taekwondo. But it was painfully clear that these were definitely not his passions. We decided to not pressure him. We would give him time to find himself. Because again, we were just flying by the seat of our pants over here. Maybe if we were nonchalant then he would get excited about something.
Every now and again I would check in with him to see if he had thought of anything. Every time he would tell me no. This drug on into middle school.
Then one day, Jackson showed me a YouTube video of a man playing a saxophone. Did He want to learn to play an instrument? No, he said. But this is the exact moment when I decided to stop leaving it up to him. I realized that my little baby bird needed a push. He is not one to love attention. The thought of all eyes on me may make his sister do cartwheels but Jackson would rather hide under a rock.
I knew that I had better pick up that saxophone and run with it. At that point it was not about him having a hobby but rather about helping him find his confidence. I wanted him to see that he could step outside of his comfort zone. Middle school is hard no doubt.
Now my son may be strong-willed but if you look up strong-willed in the dictionary, you’ll see MY picture.
The negotiation process went something like this.:
I want you to learn to play an instrument.
I’ll think about it.
And go out for middle school band next year.
NO WAY I AM DOING THAT.
Do you know that Nintendo game that you have been begging for?
(stares at me with eyes wide and mouth hanging open)
I will buy you that game if you agree to learn to play an instrument and sign up for band.
(realizes that he is engaged in a staring contest that he can’t win.)
(fears his resolve is melting away as he really wants that game.)
Okay. We have a deal.
And just like that I ordered a trumpet.
As a parent you are never sure if you are doing anything right. All you can do is go with your gut. My gut said that my son needed a nudge and a little encouragement. He did give me a little push back when it was time to actually go to his first lesson. But when he came out afterwards smiling at his teacher, I considered it a mom win.
If I am anything I am passionate about my children and everything that they do. If you are looking for me next fall, I will be the woman at the middle school football games, dancing in front of the brass section.