Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I’m trying not to.  It’s so hard.

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.


Erin said...

Awwww.... I am letting my kids tear the house apart for a moment so I can come give you a big old internet hug. I SO get it. I would say that you and I are a lot alike but I don't want to insult you. ;) I push and then beat myself up for it, too. It comes from a place of love, though. You don't want him to feel left out, or miss out on memories that everyone else seems to be making and having! Sometimes I *almost* want to secede from the interwebs because it makes me so crazy wishing that we were more like all those happy, crafty, easygoing mom & kid sets out there. The important thing is - you do get it, and I know you will let him be himself even if you take a few crazy detours now and then because you are not perfect (and no one is, despite how they seem). Hope you have a fun Halloween! - If not, there will at least be chocolate as a booby prize. :)

Erin said...

Oh I've SO been there, and then I also hate myself for it. With Annie, it's things that she's legitimately afraid of, like animals, other people, etc... and I just want her to GET OVER IT already because why are you scared of a BUNNY in a cage at the ZOO, OMG. I also have issues with just letting things go - not only with my kids, but with adults too - I like to win arguments. A lot. It's the debater in me, that will never die, and especially with a toddler? Yeah, that's fighting a LOSING battle. Even if I win, I lose. So I need to stop caring that for some weird reason she wants to pick up her toothbrush instead of me, or use a certain cup or a certain fork, or whatever her battle of the moment may be. I'm so bad at "picking my battles" and instead some days make EVERYTHING a battle. So in summary, you are sooooo not alone and I do hope that someday we'll all get better at this parenting thing. Maybe when they are adults??! Here's hoping.

Andrea @ Mama in the City said...

I can really appreciate your insight into this. It drives my husband nuts when I push our son to do certain things that are outside of his own comfort. Like keeping on a hat that I think is cute (ha). Luckily, now at 4 he is totally stoked for dressing up in costume. In fact, it is hard to get him to take it off!

Berbs33 said...

Internet hug coming from me too! Dont be so hard on yourself, we all do it! And I hear you about getting the perfect picture to post... I get caught up in that sometimes (well okay quite often) and I have been working very hard to just live in the moment and not worry so much about taking a picture to make it last forever (and let me tell you that is very hard for me)! Hope he is excited to wear his costume tonight and go trick or treating... Colton really got into it when he was 3 and every year since then has been just as exciting. Happy Halloween.

val said...

Oh, Alicia.

Halloween is weird.

When John was about Gus's age, he went to preschool all excited about his fireman costume. Dan was 2 and a fireman also.

Well, we got there and some of the kids were dressed as zombies and ghouls, scary.

John told me to take him home. "I don't know these kids."

I tried to show him these were his friends, it was fine, going to be fun.

He turned his face into me and Dan and said to take him home. The teachers tried.

No, don't touch me. I'm going home.

So, I took him home. In the backseat, still in his fireman coat and hat, he nervously sucked his thumb in his carseat.

Next preschool day he went back, no problems, to my relief and his teachers also.

You are so good to Gus. It's easy to get to arguing with a kid who is not a cooperator because we're used to prodding and coaxing, and then we choose battles that we probably shouldn't.

There are a number of things I very much wish I could go back and re-do. (Erase Asshole Val and insert sane human being.)

Someone else who commented said maybe when they're adults we'll get it right.

Probably not, lol.

It's a little known fact, but we'll spend more of our lives relating to our kids as other adults than we did raising them.

And it's confusing being the parent of other adults. The whole relationship is completely flooded with love, and yet still we can misunderstand.

Gus is going to be one of your dearest friends in life, I'm sure of that.

Everything is okay. love you so, Val

val said...

And I was so ANGRY at the other parents who had dressed their kids up scary.


Scare my little fireman?

I hate you.

Whee. love, Val

Navigating the Mothership said...

Oh, I can relate and I'm sorry you are left with that gross feeling of sadness and frustration/anger at yourself. Regret, I think the rest of the world calls it :)

Anyway, what I find hard is that I never know what is a 3 year-old battle and what is a real battle these days. There is just so much arguing and bargaining and discussing and it wears us down.

Hope yesterday went better - costumes or not!