Monday, January 28, 2008

It's (almost) all good.

Well I can't say EVERYTHING is all good, can I?!

So, for the past few months I've been feeling... I don't know... self-conscious about my boys. They're too loud. They're too rambunctious. They don't listen. They're too aggressive. They don't sit still.... etc, etc, etc. I had been talking to my mom about why my parents don't take them so much and she said "well, we sometimes find them a little overwhelming..." and I was talking to J about them and he said "well, at times they're a little overwhelming..." and he also said his older daughter seems to find them a little ... say it with me... "overwhelming."

So ok. I guess at times they are.

But, on their behalf - my parents want my boys to be a certain way. They want to bring them to shows, and ballet performances, to sit on the couch and read with them... and well... the boys will like that for maybe 20 minutes... but then that would be enough.

And J - well, yes, he IS a boy... but he has girls. And all the kids in his family are girls. And his daughter has pretty much only seen my boys in small situations. Meaning, when they're in small spaces.. J's apartment, restaurants... two dynamos in a small space.. well sure: overwhelming.

They're loud. They like to light saber battle. They tease each other. They poke each other. They whine.

It culminated a few weeks ago with Max kicking Nathan in the eye. It was ok.. but we were a bit worried for a while.

So I started to feel self conscious about them. Hyper aware of their behavior. Also, I noticed that if they did something wrong one would say to the other "I'm going to tell Dad!" Dad!! Why not me?!? So I began to think that maybe I'm not strong enough. (Ok, I know I'm not.) I'm a push over. I'm willing to give second and even third chances....

I said to myself: BE STRONGER.

I mentioned this to my shrink. She said "well, maybe they say that because they feel safe with you, and they are so worried about how X will react... how he is with them.. that they don't want him to know." Yeah. Fine. Feeling safe is all very well and good... when you're raising heathens.

But then we got the new sitter. And you know what? They've been calmer. No joke. It was the same thing after we got the first -- the 16 year old. I would come home and there would just be this calm vibe in the house. And it's like that now. Again. Wow. Was that sitter SO unsettling to all of us?

And you know what else? Max said to me the other night "Mom, I'm nervous. I'm really nervous. I didn't bring home my homework for a few days and I'm afraid I'm going to get zeros on my report card. And I've been talking in class." So I said to him that only HE could fix it. That he could bring his books home and do the homework... and HE could stop talking. That I couldn't be the one to do anything... HE could.. but that it could probably be fixed before report cards came out. I wasn't mad, I just told him that if he's so worried.. that there was something he could do to fix the worry.

And he did it. He brought home all his books. He did all the extra homework. Plus he wrote an amazing book report (on the Beatles!!) in one night. Usually I have to push him.. but he motivated himself and did an amazing job.

And I thought...

Ok. It's ok that they feel safe with me. 'Cause you know what? He told me that he was scared. He told me what he had done wrong. What if he had been too afraid of my reaction and hadn't told me? At the risk of being overdramatic... it could have started a downward spiral that ends with reform school! (Do they still have reform schools? And yes, I know, very overdramatic... but you know what I mean.) And it gave me the opportunity to talk to him about it, and it gave him the opportunity to fix it and feel better. (He actually pumped his fist in the air and yelled "touchdown!")

And Nathan just got his first kindergarten report card. He pretty much got all threes (goes from one to four) and his teacher wrote that he's progressing nicely in all areas and (I love this part!) "Keep up the good work that you do with him at home. It shows!" It shows!

Can you see my ear to ear grin?

Siiigghhh... so I'm trying. I'm really trying to tell myself that I'm not a perfect parent. That maybe I'm not the best disciplinarian.. that maybe my kids do get a bit out of control at times... but I'm pretty ok at some things. And maybe that has to just be enough.


Family Adventure said...

You describe my anxiety about my boys perfectly. Sometimes, they are just too loud, too rowdy, too rude....and I start feeling like a failure.

And then, just when I'm about to throw in the towel, they do something sweet, considerate or adorable (in my opinion, anyway). And I think maybe, just maybe, I can do this parenting thing after all :)

Obviously, the sitter situation really unsettled your boys. I'm so glad you did what you needed to do. And even happier that things are working out well for everyone now!


Gwen said...

I'm glad the sitter is working out. It's amazing how stuff that seems sort of fring-ey can really affect kids. Charlotte came home from school the other day in an awful mood. I finally teased out that it was because she'd had a sub and so the students were rowdy and wild. And it really rattled her.

Teachin' this mommy new tricks! said...

Im sure you are doing better than you think. My sister has amazing kids and she always seems to find something she could be doing better...but that is what makes her and probably you a great mom! Always worrying about what you can do to help them be better! There isn't much more a good mother can do!!!!

Tracy said...

I'm sure that report card felt great for both of you :-) I finally decided to lay off the nagging (remember: college) this past semester and it clearly made a difference... I think that that feeling of kids feeling comfortable and not "threatened" by a parent is important. Good for you!