Monday, August 16, 2010

This is not a rehearsal

I think I've probably screwed my oldest kid up. He's only 2 1/2, but I'm pretty sure that I've taught him how to yell, how to be socially awkward, and how to withdraw into your imagination so far that you literally have to be shaken out of it.

He can't walk to the other side of the room without being distracted by a book. He can't figure out how to join in a group where he would like to play too. He can't find a way to express his anxiety, frustration, anger, nerves, or whatever, without yelling.

Is is wrong to want for your child to stop being so much like you?

I want for him to be like his father. I want him to take that ability to be so deeply distracted and turn it into the ability Kevin has to concentrate for hours on a tiny task until it is completely complete. I want for him to be slow to anger like his father, saving a raised voice for a time when it really matters, not over the stupid stuff for which I raise my voice.

And I really want for him to be able to make friends more easily than either of us do.

But none of that is going to happen unless I model it for him. Two and a half years of crappy modeling, I've done.

I yell too much. He yells too much.

I slam something down in anger. He hits the wall when he's mad.

I constantly intervene when he does anything that I think might be interpreted as "mean" or "rude" to another child. And not for the right reasons. He has had no real lessons of real human interaction because I'm too busy butting in and manipulating them.

Say you're sorry. Give her a hug. Don't talk like that to your friends. Don't yell. Wait your turn. You have to share.

I know there is guidance I have to give him, but I watch him lately and fret. I worry that I've already screwed the pooch on this one. How much of his personality is already ingrained?

Kevin says that he is only two. I worry too much.

Yes, I suppose I do.

But I really don't want for Christopher to suffer through life as my "practice run."