Thursday, May 14, 2009

Keeping It Real

Check out a version of this post at the Hybrid Mom website.

I was staring into the eyes of a strange-looking boy whose face was so contorted with rage and whose fists and teeth were clenched so hard I thought he might explode into a million little bits. His face got redder and redder while under his breath he made inhuman gurgling sounds and looked as if, one-by-one, he popped all of the blood vessels in his face. He was so angry I was convinced if his red face were actually green he might look like the Incredible Hulk did when he was 6-years-old.

Only this was no stranger. It was Nicholas. And, this wasn't an isolated incident. These angry episodes occur over and over again. I never thought I would see the day that my generally mild-mannered son would turn into a livid, unrecognizable creature who foams at the mouth and is unable to articulate a coherent sentence. But, then again, he started school. He spends more time with his friends. And, he turned six. Welcome to my world.

I share this story as a way to reassure others that it happens in my house, too. I have kids who break rules, question authority, scream at the top of their lungs (note to self: stop yelling at boys and model better behavior) fight and act out. It's no surprise that with three fire signs living under one roof things tend to get a little... heated. Nicholas and Christopher are both Aries who according to their astrological description "do not make very good followers because they are too 'take charge.' They may be unwilling to obey or submit to directions for which they can see no reason or with which they disagree." Oh boy. As a Sagittarius I am "impatient and demand too much of people who cannot work at the pace I require." Hmmmnnnn. We are in for a lot of fun times at my house.

Seriously, though, I find it laughable that some parents choose to put on such a false facade of perfection when it comes to their kids. No one is perfect. Not my kids, not your kids, not your neighbors' kids. I always get a good chuckle when I hear a parent say exasperatingly after, for example, a particularly extreme outburst or after their kid said something mean to someone else, "I have no idea why Junior just did that. It has never happened before. Junior never acts this way." Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. That is me laughing at the expectation that some parents expect me to believe such poppycock.

I remember an acquaintance of mine who commented to me on how well the boys got along and how nice they play with each other. She has boys right around the same age and was frustrated that, according to her, her boys don't get along as well as mine do or act as well in public. I had to remind her that she only sees my kids occasionally and she has, fortunately, never had the opportunity to spend a day at my house when it's raining and the boys are inside all day and I'm trying to clean the house. Let's just say it is not a pretty picture. I assured her that my boys have their "moments" just like everyone else's and you never know what goes on behind closed doors. It's too easy to compare ourselves to others but what we fail to realize is that it's rarely an apples-to-apples comparison. Too many other factors affect what we "think" we see.

Let me "keep it real" for you. Nicholas still writes his nines and sometimes his twos and threes backwards. He is reading above his grade level, but he has a hard time recognizing the value of coins. He can play complicated piano arrangements, but can't follow two-step instructions like make your bed and brush your teeth. He can be very polite, but his sassy mouth gets him in lots of trouble. He gets very angry that he has to follow some of my rules (when his friends don't have the same rules) and will have to learn the hard way that I am still in charge. Regardless of what new, exciting, forbidden things he is learning in his ever-expanding world, he still needs to know that he has boundaries.

On the other hand, Christopher can be very charming and tells me often that I am beautiful, but he cries and whines waaaayyyyy too much. I thought he might outgrow that phase when he turned four, but I don't see an end in sight. My neighbor half-jokingly told me last summer that he didn't have to set an alarm clock in the morning because Christopher's crying woke him up every day at 8:00 am. Yup. I have that kid. The crier who wakes up the neighborhood. I may not be able to open my windows this summer if Christopher doesn't get it under control.

My boys and I continue to learn about each other, continue to grow and continue to change. I love being at home with my boys and I love that I am witness to their incredible past, present and future. I wouldn't change my circumstances for anything in the world. However, all this parenting and all this change has turned my once brunette hair gray at an alarmingly fast pace. I have good days and I have bad days. But, I am not ashamed to admit that my kids are not perfect and I have long since abandoned the notion that my parenting style requires input from or comparison to others. It is what it is.

I just wish the Incredible Hulk would take up camp in someone else's house. He is really starting to wear out his welcome.


Catherine said...

I enjoyed this post!

Kim Murray said...

Thank you, Catherine!


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