Lately, I have not been overjoyed with my children. They’re probably not happy with me either. I know they are only kids, but they are driving me crazy! They have all gotten to that age in between childhood and adulthood. Though the oldest is twenty, I still put him in this category because he is in college and still relies on us for his existence, even if he is gone more than half the year.
The things that set me off usually fall into three categories. First are the nuisances. Why do I find dirty dishes in every room of the house? What is so hard about finishing a snack and then bringing the dishes to the kitchen? If by some miracle they do make it to the kitchen, why can’t they be rinsed and put in the dishwasher? If you use the last tissue in the box, why can’t you throw away the box? Or how about getting another one from the shelf so someone else can find tissues when they need them?
Second are the troublesome things. Effort equals grades. Don’t tell me the teacher can’t teach or that he or she doesn’t like you. If you turn in the homework on time and don’t disrupt the teacher’s class, you can sleep through the rest of it. If I buy you the expensive calculator the class requires, don’t lend it out to friends who won’t return it, or who’ll break it. I don’t want to explain for the umpteenth time that money doesn’t grow on trees.
Third are the life lessons. Choose your friends wisely; they make a difference in how you see yourself. A little effort now can change your future; your life is like a bullet shot from a gun: make sure you aim high.
I think these are awkward years for both parents and kids. When our children were younger I would tell them to pick up the clothes on the floor of their room and it would happen because my wife and I said so. Now they think that if they are ok with the way they keep their room, we should be as well. This falls apart quickly when they tell my wife they have nothing to wear; as it turns out, all their clothes are in a pile on the floor. If they can’t tell what is clean or dirty how can we?
It can be a constant fight between us on every front. I get tired of saying, “Just do it,” or theirs and my personal favorite, “I’m not asking I’m telling”.
But I am coming to realize that some of this can’t be avoided. Our kids are growing up, and figuring out the perfect blend of independence and structure is going to result in bouncing off each other some. It’s even more of a challenge with the oldest, since we have never been through this before. Also, since he has cerebral palsy, drawing the line between independence and control is even more complicated. In short, some of our clashes are understandable.
I know some of it has to do with me still treating them like kids, even though they’re not anymore. Some of it is their not wanting anybody, especially their parents, to tell them what they can and can’t do.
I want to protect them, is that a crime? At times, according to my children it’s a crime. As a parent, I don’t want my kids to have to learn the hard way. I want them to learn from the hard knocks I already took. But sometimes we just can’t see something is true until we take a direct hit to the brain. That is tough for me to watch. I made mistakes in life, and some cost me years I will never get back. Is it so bad that I don’t want them to do the same?
I am, after all, their parent. If I could get them to accept one thing it would be that Mom and Dad want the very best for them. All the struggles of today are going to pay off, I promise. Even on the worst days, they are still my greatest joy, and when they are adults I’m going to be proud of them no matter what. And when they are parents I am going to point and laugh when they get their payback!