* Edit: Para 14 – Changed 20.5 to 18.5 years. Yes, it’s true. I cannot count.
We have been blessed with a beautiful little boy. Sometimes I think I take this for granted.
We could have nearly lost him on his day of birth because of his fetal heart rate dropping rapidly midway during labour. I ought to remind myself about this every so often. God was gracious though and here he is.
We’ve just reached the 2.5 year mark of spending life together. It’s been mostly a fabulous time, but some days, like how it was yesterday, I feel horrible about the way I parent him.
I am not very good at handling the clumsiness and apparent fickle nature of toddlers. So sometimes I make a fuss about small things. At other times, I think I may have outright misjudged his actions, interpreting something he did as rebellion when maybe it was just plain ignorance or innocence even.
I realise that there is a difference between punishing him for behaviours which would endanger him or which are bad habits that he should not carry forward into his adult life versus things which he does that cause an inconvenience to me (like playing with his food and dawdling and messing up the dining table and the floor at mealtimes. Or choosing to explore some random object or corner in the house and getting himself dirty in the process, which is not essentially harmful, just that I would have more work to do clearing up after him).
Regrettably, I sometimes respond in the same way for both categories of behaviour.
It’s come to a point where my son automatically responds in the cutest voice ever: “Sorry Mummy. I won’t do it next time.” without properly understanding the extent of the cause and effect of the event at hand. I feel awful now for the flawed reasoning I am teaching him. All he wants to do is literally kiss and make up. He will also say things like “I want to hug Mummy. Make Mummy feel better”.
Some modern day child psychologist will probably tell me that I am ruining his future because of the negative ways I am responding to his inquisitiveness or his inherent nature as a toddler. And that by yelling at him and spanking him for certain behaviours I am wrecking havoc on his social behaviour. Or some other complicated line of reasoning that I might not be able to actually comprehend.
All I can say is that I am still trying to improve, though I do fail a lot. I sincerely do not want to hurt my lovely little boy, but I do not want to spoil him either. At the same time, I also do not want to abuse my authority and dictate how he does things just because it’s to my convenience. He is a unique individual with quirks of his own, and I hope I do not curtail that unwittingly.
Plenty of Mum bloggers out there will give you post after post about how to do things right, tips and tricks, etc. Apparently, they must have got it all worked out. Bless their dear hearts. Well, here I am with a dose of reality for you instead.
Parenting is tough and will test everything you are and what you stand for. It will shake you to the core. It will taunt you for all the things you were so sure of earlier in your life. All those smug solutions you swore you would do when it’s your turn to parent a young one.
At the end of the day, it’s entirely possible to feel awful and disgusted with yourself and how you handled a situation with your kid. It’s discouraging and yet, it’s not something you can just back out of. It’s a commitment you took when you decided to raise a child. It’s not like there is a Return Policy you can negotiate with God or anything like that.
So, ladies and gents, I am stuck with a mountain of problems on how to ensure my wonderful boy turns into a useful, respectable man who is a blessing to society. We’ve still got about 18.5 years to go till I let go of my responsibilities and he gets to choose his own path. It seems like a daunting task that I am not sure I can complete. I guess it’s only possible by the grace of God.
I’ll be sure to stop and pen you a note when I finally figure some of these things out. For now, it’s 5am and all I can do is imagine that today will be a better day. And determine in myself that I will find a better way of managing my household and the behaviour of my son without losing my cool and unnecessarily punishing him.
My son is more forgiving towards me than I am of myself though. He loves me unwaveringly. I wish and hope that God is just as kind (though I know He is, it is still hard to believe often times). I feel like if I fail this parenting thing, it’s literally the end for me. (Okay, so I tend to over-dramatise things a bit. Well, don’t all writers?)
If we ever needed an opportunity in life to prove ourselves and to correct the mistakes we made earlier in life, parenting sure is one of them. Our children are that second chance. We got to make sure we make it count.