“Well, acknowledging your ‘issues’ is 3/4ths of the way there,” a good friend recently said over a very nice margarita and nachos supreme. And I kind of wanted to ask – if I’m at 75%, is that good enough or do I have to actually try to go for 100%….ie, do I have to work on improving myself?
I was explaining to my friend the difficulties that I sometimes have with Micah as he continually tries to test the limits I set. I joked that I had just picked up another book, this one called “Try and Make Me,” and it described us perfectly in the first 5 pages. It also suggested rather firmly that the fault of all power struggles lies solely in me, the adult. Yes….I roll my eyes, I know.
So, I am starting to feel a little confident that I have found a book that understands my problem, and on Thursday as we are all getting ready for school/work/day care, Micah is throwing a ball at the chandelier (right after being reprimanded and having the first ball removed from his hands). I turn to my sister and say “he’s baiting me. Yep, that’s what the book says – he’s baiting me.” “So,” she replies, “what does it say to do about it?” I shake my head, “no clue, haven’t gotten there yet, but he’s baiting me!”
Then this morning, the woman working at the community center where Micah plays basketball offers that her life was completely changed around by the “1-2-3 Magic” system by Thomas Phalen. Good, I think, another book for me to read….
A few months ago, I joked with a co-worker that the only “literature” I read now is parenting books. He surprised me when he said, “you know, I really admire that. I mean, if I want to become an expert at something, I read about it. I would imagine that if you want to become good at parenting, it’s good to read about it.” I actually had never thought about that. Somehow I expected parenting to be as easy and natural as babysitting – feed them, rock them, play with them, viola! – return them to the parents!
But no….not that easy. Now I feed and rock and play and worry about whether their school/day care is right for them? Whether Seth’s hair will grow back quickly as he has no bangs after that haircut yesterday? Whether they will grow up to be independent, ethical, hard-working young men? Whether they will stay as beautiful (ahem, handsome) as they are now. So, now I read books:
Wild Things, the Art of Raising Boys – loved it
Love and Logic – couldn’t really get into it
The Explosive Child – described Micah and our difficulty perfectly, but the solution – not so helpful
The Help – great book
The Irresistible Henry House – thought I’d love it, never finished it
Goodnight Moon – a classic
The Very Cranky Bear – my favorite
Here’s what it boils down to. My issues. There are two parts of my personality that I struggle with – my need for control and the desire to be right. Those two qualities are deep-seated and highly ingrained features of me. And I’ve come far because of them (elementary education degree, developmental psychology doctorate, pediatrician – driven by my ability to control my learning and my need to be right). However, these two qualities are at the root of much of my parenting difficulties.
Guess what? You can’t actually control a child – they are their own unique human beings with their own will (and, not surprisingly, their own desire for control!). My job is to help shape that will, but I can’t control it. And when it comes to parenting, I am not nearly as right as I sure would like to be and that frustrates me. So when Micah and I are escalating into one of our classic power struggles, it is actually me grappling with my own self and nature and refusing to give in or be perceived as being “wrong.” Heavy stuff.
So….this is where I am right now – at 75% – and halfway through one book with two more in my Amazon cart….and I am open to suggestions.
————————- A brief update to last week’s post ———————–
I called the caseworker supervisor on Monday to say that the visit almost never took place as the mother’s name was not on the list again. He said, “Well, that’s her responsibility to make sure she’s on the list.” I replied, “She didn’t even know a visit was happening that day.” To this, he became quite agitated – saying that the mother’s lawyer had thrown a dramatic fit at the court hearing a week prior that CYF was ignoring the mother’s rights and treating her poorly and that the mother was so upset about not having a visit. And now we’re all wondering how much of this craziness is being driven by the lawyer….rather than the mother….and is the lawyer even talking to the birthmother. Who needs fiction? Life is crazy enough! So birthmother will be released in about two weeks and we’ll see what happens next.