Just a Boy?!
I don’t claim to be a wise parent. I am, however, lucky enough to know some wise parents. It is to them (and to other wise people, parent or not) that I am appealing to for help.
I am the mother of three – two girls and a boy. I have been quite honest since becoming the mother of a son that I just don’t quite “get” my son sometimes. He is cute, energetic, funny, and sweet. He is also one of the most frustrating kids I know. He is in a stage right now where he takes great joy in annoying the snot out of both of his sisters. I’m guessing he does the same with other kids at school, since he told me yesterday that one of his classmates called him an ass. We talked about all the reasons it was bad and ugly for his classmate to say that, but I also asked if he in some way earned it. Turns out, he was annoying that kid, too. (You should have seen the look in his eyes when he finally made the connection: being an ass = being a pain in the butt! I have to admit that he makes me laugh, even if I have to hold it inside until he isn’t watching.) He hates chores and will spend hours (yes, literally hours) in his room crying about how long it will take him to clean his room rather than getting down to it and getting it finished. He hoards papers, legos, and other small toys. He will try to lie his way out of trouble sometimes. Fortunately (or unfortunately, for him), he is a horrible liar. There are certain other bad habits, which I won’t share here at the moment, but these bad habits get him in bad trouble. I’ll leave it at that.
When I get frustrated with him, a few people will chastise me and remind me that he is “just a boy.” Yes, I know that boys are different from girls. Still, I have a hard time swallowing this as an excuse. If anyone were to say to me, “Oh, she’s just a girl” when one of my daughters misbehaved, pitched a tantrum, or acted on a really bad habit, I would have to scream “Sexist!” How dare you say my daughter can’t be expected to behave/function normally just because she is a girl! How dare you say my son can’t be expected to behave/function normally just because he is a boy! Or am I wrong? Am I totally missing something?
Yes, I know my son is also ADHD, but I don’t want that to be his excuse for bad behavior either. I’m doing the best I can to help him. He’s on medicine. I alter certain procedures and expectations to fit his capabilities. I make sure he gets plenty of time for free play and exercise. I am determined that I will get serious this summer about his diet and figure out what foods (and preservatives) affect his behavior. I already know that red #40 is bad, as is rich chocolate, too much sugar, and caffeinated soft drinks. Regular sweet tea hasn’t been so bad, although I will probably cut it for awhile too, just to see if I notice any difference. It wouldn’t hurt anyone in my family if we cleaned up our diet a little (or a lot).
I know I don’t have it all together as a parent. I am currently celebrating the fact that so far I am weathering this latest rough spot much more calmly that I have some of the previous ones. I’m frustrated, though. And worried. And wondering if I’ll ever understand what motivates my little guy to do some of the things he does.
So, my wise friends, what advice do you have? What am I failing to see or try? I am open to suggestions. Please be gentle, though. It’s been a rough week for this mom. Thanks!