I, like most people, have a favorite comic strip that is stuck in a predominant position on my refrigerator. I read it anytime I need a little smile; not a hug but a simple reminder that I am not the only one in this world with issues.
The comic goes like this:
A mother is looking at her child and says, “Go to time out!” (you can see her anger)
The child looks at the mother and asks, “For how long?” (you know you have heard a variation of this before)
And the mother returns, “Infinity!”
I love that cartoon because are times that my children literally drive me to drink. These perfect, cute, brilliant and wonderful children morph into a red horned devil and literally take away every ounce of compassion and sheer patience that I have. And why? 364 days a year my child is wonderful. He uses his manners, listens, doesn’t get into any trouble. And then it is like something or someone takes over and he reverts to that Dennis the Menace character that literally drove Mr. Wilson to contemplate lobotomy.
My son is a follower. Nothing wrong with that, and certainly nothing I try to change. It is who he is. But it takes him time to “find” his posse, or the leader he can fall on his sword for. I, personally, don’t understand it, because while I got in trouble as a child, I don’t remember it ever being because someone “made me” do it. I don’t remember the urge in any time of my life to let other five and six-year olds dictate to me. I was a wuss! But once my son gets comfortable in a routine he literally drops all the things that I have taught him and becomes someone that is an embarrassment to me. The little demon makes me look bad.
My son allowed his friends to get him into trouble yesterday. Playing in class, despite the teacher’s warning, laughing and joking around. My son doesn’t have the personality to start it, but what I am so desperately trying to teach is that he doesn’t have to go along with it. That lesson does not seem to be sticking. He is “cooler” when the other boys like him. When he is making jokes and egging everyone on he is “one of them”. Maybe it is a guy thing.
So my husband picks my children up from school, finds out about the bad behavior, and has to make the decision of what sort of punishment is applicable. (In my home, the punishment has to fit the crime) My son at some point chimes in that he already knows that mommy is going to take away his DS (handheld gaming system) and he doesn’t care. I imagine that at five he did care, but my child is smart (or dumb depending how you look at it). He was trying to take the wind out of his daddy’s sails. Now if I had been in the car when he said it, I would have pulled over and probably beaten him. But that’s just me.
So Daddy decided that my five-year old son needed to write, “I will listen to the teacher,” one hundred times. ONE HUNDRED TIMES!!! It took him an hour to do forty-seven, so we relented and promised the next time he would do all hundred. It was actually a pretty good punishment. My son was forced to be in a room by himself and concentrate. He cried, he moaned, he looked at me like I was the devil (even though I didn’t come up with the punishment…ahhh) but for an active five-year sitting still and writing is a punishment.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe in beating my children no matter how much I might fantasize about it. And my children are smart and tend to play me anytime I try to get a point across. It has been a five-year battle to teach my child anything. Not because he isn’t smart, but because he honestly is too smart. He test scores show a higher than average intellect, but the boy is so smart he can literally make a logical argument for why I am wrong. And everyone once in a while the little shit is right.
For the most part, my children are a joy. I like my son’s brain. I like challenging him, pushing him to think beyond what his kindergarten teacher is teaching. I like trying to help him make sense of all the incredible ideas that he has in his head. And then he makes a rational argument and I wonder why I couldn’t have a normal child. My daughter, so artistic that I am constantly stopping in my day to watch the latest dance moves she has made up or to hang up a new picture, is simply a drama queen. I can ignore her. My son not so much.
My son is a born lawyer. (he comes by it naturally) He can make an argument out of anything, and he negotiates – with common sense – until you are so worn down that you give up in defeat. Acknowledging that sometimes my child gets the better of me, at five mind you, is a bitter pill to swallow. Imagine having Einstein, or Bill Gates, or Stephen Hawkings as your child. It is incredible ride. There is amazing joy, but sometimes there is bitter defeats.
I will continue taking it a day at a time, which is all you can do with children. I will take the time to remember each and every day their absolute wonder; and the amazing humans that I am diligently sweating for them to become. When they push me to my limit (which granted has a little to do with my disease) I will simply remember that comic strip.
You, my son, will be there for infinity! (And because you are so damn smart you know what infinity is.)