Parenting gets harder as Q gets older. I thought it would get easier, and I suppose in some ways it has.
There are no midnight feedings or messy diapers. There are no temper tantrums or toddlers with boundless energy. Babies and toddlers are just sooooo needy. I mean, Q can feed himself and dress himself. He can go *potty* without assistance.
So that’s something, right?
The thing about the younger years that I like is the amount of control you have over the circumstances and events surrounding your child. You can protect them from outside forces. You can control who has influence over them, by limiting/screening what T.V. they watch, who they hang out with. Even so called “un-controllable” temper tantrums are really within control, because you can shut them away in their bedroom until they stop being ridiculous. You can control their behaviour with consequences and discipline.
I think I used control at least 5 times in that paragraph…do you think I have control issues?
No. Me neither. (I think by *control*, I mean *protect*…that sounds better…)
The point I’m getting at is that as your children get older, I’m finding, you begin to lose control over their lives. And I guess this is the natural progression of aging. I suppose it’s healthy. I’m just not sure how much I like it.
Q has a new friend, a neighbourhood boy. This boy I do not like. At all. But he’s 8. How do you tell an 8 year old he cannot play with your child because he’s a rotten little shit? It’s kind of impossible. He yells at his parents (they lead by example, always yelling at him…), he’s rude to his little brother (“Move your fat head”), he’s impolite and mean.
He comes to play video games with Q – I would much rather they play in my house than theirs – so I can….uhhhh….supervise… While playing video games, his dialog with my son is much similar to this, “Awww, what are you doing? You’re so dumb. Do you even know how to play this game? That was a stupid move. This is so boring. I hate this.” And on and on and on it goes. When he goes home, I tell Q he needs to stand up for himself when this kid says these things. I don’t really know how he does this. Admittedly, ‘don’t say mean things to me, it hurts my feelings,’ sounds lame, even to me. I’m torn between refusing to let this kid play with my beloved son and acknowledging that as an only child, Q needs other kids to play with. This one just happens to be the only one we can find…
Not wanting to appear to be an uber-controlling mom and in an attempt to try not to embarrass my child, I keep my mouth shut. Most of the time. Occasionally, I cannot bite my tongue any longer and have to say something. Like in this instance:
Neighbourhood kid: Q!! You’re such a PUSSY.
Say what, now? Are you effing kidding me? This child is 8. 8. Eight!!!! While I’m sure he didn’t know what the word really meant because he looked at me like “what’s your problem, lady? I called him a cat…” I’m still so shocked that this word was even in his vocabulary. Q just the other week stuck up his pointer finger and asked me if that meant he was giving someone the finger, by pointing at them. (Yes, yes, it is…by the way…).
What is going on in this child’s life that he knows words like this exist? I’m still shocked.
Me: (Internal Dialog…) Listen here, you little shit. A word like that comes out of your mouth again towards my son and I will kick you so hard, you’ll land in next Friday. Got it?
ME: (External Dialog…) Excuse me? We DO NOT use words like that in our home. Do you understand me? You use it again, and you’re going home. Got it?
The kid just looked at me. The thing is, I kept my voice low and calm. He’s so used to being yelled at, he didn’t know how to react. He kept his mouth shut after that, and each subsequent time he’s been in the house. He keeps looking at me too. So I stare him down. That’s okay, right??
After he left, my kid says, “I think you should write a letter to his parents. He shouldn’t say things like that!!” Oh, how I love Q. So eager, just like me, to make sure everything in life is put right, with no loose ends. I did consider it, but what were his parents going to do? Yell at him? Give him a pat on the back? Chances are this horrible word came from them. In the end, I figured my method was much more effective.
I got to experience it this time, but what about the next time…when I’m not there? What happens then? I know that I have to trust that the parenting I’ve done thus far will sustain my child through these events. How?
• My son knows what’s right and what’s wrong: He knows. I’ve modelled it. I’ve guided him when he’s been wrong. He has had to endure consequences when he steps out of line. And while a conscience isn’t built into children, a strong knowledge of right and wrong somehow helps one grow. I need to remember this.
• We’ve built the communication lines: Q can tell me anything. We’ve built this road over the past almost 9 years. He tells me the little things, the big things and everything in between. There is no filter. And truly, for an 8 year old, there are no little things, are there? Everything is pretty significant. We talk things through. We rationalize, we debate, we come to a resolution. Every time.
• I’m a safe haven: Well, first of all…I’m his momma, so you would think it obvious that I’m a safe haven, but is it? I’ve created a non-judgemental environment for Q. We have no gender bias, no race bias. We have guidelines and routines and rules. This allows him to bring home new/different ideas and share them with me, without fear of my reaction. This way, we get to figure things out together. He doesn’t have to go to his friends to find out what this means or that means. He can come to me and KNOW he’s getting the truth. And, he know I love him. Always have, alway will NO MATTER WHAT. I tell him often. Like, all the time how much I love him.
• I have fear on my side: Seriously, I use everything I can to my advantage. We’re watching COPS – see, cops catch you every time. This is why you don’t do anything illegal. They will catch you. We’re reading the news, and someone has died of a drug overdose – see, this is why you only take drugs that come from a doctor for a specific reason. Otherwise, you die.
And then I remind myself that a mustard seed is soooooo veeeeeeeeeryyyyy tiny, but once planted it grows and grows and grows. I believe it’s much the same with Q. I have planted the seed of goodness, and I know it will grow and he will grow into someone amazing. I also hope, that by allowing this boy into our home, I am planting a seed in him as well and one day good will prevail over evil.
How do you sleep at night, knowing that this is just the beginning? What are we going to do, once they’re teenagers in high school or they move away for college?
How do we control them then????