Sometimes parenting is hard. Really hard. Really, really hard.
Today my son had to swallow a huge bitter pill, one that I gave him. One that my own mother and father gave to me as a teenager...several times. One that, now, I finally realize, they also had to swallow.
Every morning, I get my son up about 6:30 a.m. Yes, I wake him. (More on that later.) He rolls out of bed, goes to the bathroom. He usually takes his shower the night before, so strolls into his room, gets dressed. In clothes, that most likely, I laid out for him. He walks down the hall, puts his shoes on, and sits down to the breakfast that I put in front of him. He eats his breakfast, gathers his books/lunchbox/water bottle/sweater, and walks out the door to the car, where I drive him 30-40 minutes (depending on traffic) to his school. He does not have much responsibility in the morning, other than getting dressed, and getting his stuff together to leave. That's all.
Lately, however, he has been "sluffing off" in the morning. Last week he forgot a book. Fortunately, he did not need it that day. Monday, he forgot his sweater, when it was getting colder outside. I admonished him, but did not drive all the way home and then back to school with the sweater. He had to learn his lesson. I felt guilty all day, but the school does not allow parents to drop items off during the day anyway. Thankfully, it was not too cold out, so he did okay, and was diligent about having it the next day, when it was 28 degrees.
Today he forgot his shoes. He wears a standard uniform to school (khaki pants, school-issued polo, school-issued sweater, black socks, belt, and dress shoes.), so he knows what is expected of him. If he does not wear a piece of his uniform, he gets an infraction from the school. Three infractions equals a detention. This morning, he put his sneakers on, instead of the dress shoes, but did not realize it until after he got out of the car at school, 30 minutes from our house. He flagged me down as I was leaving, running across traffic (and almost getting hit by a car), to tell me that he forgot his shoes. He hopped back in the car, and I went to park, so I could talk to him. First, I was furious that he did not look before crossing the road to get to me. Then, he asked me to either take him home, or to a store to buy a new pair of shoes quickly (it was 7:45 a.m.-no department stores open.) I said no.
I told him it was his responsibility to remember his shoes. I told him that today was the day he was teacher's assistant in tutoring, so his teacher expected him there. I told him he would just have to deal with an infraction, and that this was a lesson he would have to learn. I had him get out of the car, with tears in his eyes, and I drove off. At that moment, I realized I had become my parents.
I was not exactly the most responsible teenager. I was not a bad kid. On the contrary, I was a good girl, but was lazy. Super lazy. I tried to get away with whatever I could, I goofed off, was unmotivated. And my parents called me out on it every time. I hated it. I did not like to be called irresponsible. But...slowly, over time, I learned. Gradually (years and years), I became more responsible. I am sure there are moments when my parents still think I am irresponsible. I probably am. But overall, I learned to swallow that big bitter pill, and learned the lessons they taught me. Lessons that now, apparently, it is my time to teach my son. I finally understand what they were trying to teach me, and why.
I love my son. Very, very much. And so I do so much for him. Sometimes too much. I usually do not mind, because he is such a really great kid, a joy to have around. He is my baby, our pride and joy. He's loving and sweet, with a heart as huge as the Grand Canyon. He's loyal, funny, clever, and knows more about math/history/everything than I do. He has the work ethic of a CEO, the dedication and love for education of a college professor. He gets straight A's, and will settle for nothing less. At school, and with school work, he is a perfectionist to the 9,000 degree, and is even sometimes too hard on himself. At school, he is known by the teachers as "the gentleman," for his maturity and politeness. We are very proud of him.
But home is a different story. He knows he is supposed to change out of his uniform when he gets home. About 40% of the time he either forgets, or feels he has so much homework to do, that he cannot afford the three minutes it takes to change his clothes. He forgets to make his bed/take out the recycling/clean up his school books and papers. He knows that he is supposed to pick up his socks/Legos/books/rock collection/stuff after using them. He forgets about 50% of the time, and I am forever cleaning up after him. He knows he has me wrapped around his finger, and that because he works so hard in other areas, I will let the household stuff slide.
The past two weeks he has had 4 - 4 1/2 frigging hours of homework, every night, on top of 7 1/2 hours in school, with a 25 minute lunch break. I know he is working hard, with no down time. The teachers are working these kids to death, and he has been super stressed, so I have let things slide. I picked up the slack, and did more for him than I normally do. But, as a responsible parent, it is my job to teach him responsibility. There is a reason he should pick up his socks/Legos/books/rock collection/stuff after he uses them. There is a reason he needs to remember his sweater, and the right pair of shoes. What kind of mother would I be to send him out in the world, without teaching him to take care of himself? In the end, I know he will have the pride of knowing he can do it, if taught the responsibility. I don't want to mean about it, but I cannot bail him out. I cannot let him get away with things. Yes, I should pick my battles, because he is such a good kid, and yes, I need to give him a break every now and then. But I also have to let him fall down sometimes, so he can rise up. Like today. He will most likely get an infraction for his shoes. It will be his first of the year, so he will not get a detention, but will hopefully he will learn a lesson from this, he will learn more about responsibility.
In the meantime, the guilt of pulling away while he was upset is killing me. So I guess now I have my own huge bitter pill to swallow. Just like my parents did.
The original post is available at: http://www.alittlebiteoflife.net/2011/02/ive-become-my-parents-swallowi…
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