Oh my sweet Gus. He really is his own self, and I love that about him. He is so charming and affectionate, such a mama’s boy, and funny and rambunctious and really really smart. And also… stubborn and strong-willed, oh yes. And when you push, and don’t take the time to do it gently, he pushes back.
This picture of our two boys from last Friday night, before the big Halloween Party at Dan’s grandma’s house… well it makes me sad. Because this was taken after a half hour of pleading, reasoning, shallow threats, attempted bribery, and finally even shamefully saying things like, “All the other kids will be wearing costumes, don’t you want to be like the other kids?”
This was a battle that I didn't need to wage, because in the grand scheme of things IT DOES NOT MATTER whether or not Gus wears a costume this year. It doesn't even matter if he goes trick-or-treating. So why do I push?
I can’t seem to help it sometimes. I was so frustrated on Friday night that he was still fighting me on this, even though I took his lead and went with the lamest costumes ever for both kids because he wanted to be a ghost “like Percy!” from a Thomas episode he recently watched.
As I was doing it, the pushing, I was angry with myself for caring so much… caring about what other people would think? Caring that I might not be able to post a cute picture of him in his costume on Instagram. Caring that he would somehow “miss out” on something that might be fun for him (and us), but at the same time I was refusing to see or hear him in the whole situation.
I took away his power. He is three, so there are not a lot of things that he has control over in his life, but his body, how he feels about doing certain things, those are his and no one else’s. By pushing when I really don’t need to I am telling him that his feelings don’t matter, and that rather than thinking for himself it is more important to do what everyone else does.
He was crying about 30 minutes before this picture was taken. Real tears. He hated having that big stupid white t-shirt on, he refused to wear the white stocking cap, he just wanted to go to great grandma’s house and see all his cousins and eat pumpkin shaped cookies and not wear something that made him uncomfortable.
Now I can see how stupid it was to push him on something so inconsequential, but in the moment, it was just another thing he was fighting me on.
And that picture. His little fidgety hands. His slumped shoulders. His sad and unbearably sweet big blue eyes. Oh this picture makes my heart hurt.
…honoring his feelings and making sure he knows that it’s okay to be HIM, because there is only one of those, and its okay to be different… those things are so much more important to me than getting a fun picture on Halloween.
So I’m working on it. Next time I’ll do better.