My Own Worst Nightmare: Me
October 11, 2011 § 2 Comments
I would consider myself a responsible human being: I have health insurance, I return my library books (maybe not on time), I don’t litter. So when I became a parent, (naturally) I read up on things. I crafted a unique parenting style, carefully melding the best of every school of thought. My opinions on every mundane detail of early life and the best method to rear children in this delicate period were artfully developed and fine-tuned. I assumed all my diligence had served me quite well for a while. I was God’s gift to parenting, if you will.
That is, until my son became a toddler. I started observing my 2 year-old son and all of a sudden there were a few… traits he adopted that looked disturbling familiar. Some might even say they were eerily similar to some of my less desirable characteristics. I’ll walk you through a few.
The “stink eye.” The stink eye started at around 18 months old or so. I would cringe anytime we went to the store because here was this beautiful, golden-haired, blue eyed angel. People (mostly old ladies) would spot us down the aisle and flock to us, smiling and fawning over my little boy. Did he smile? No. He gave them the look of hell. A look full of malice and dark intent. No matter what I did, it got worse and worse. People would wave and I’d make a bee-line for the check-out.
I didn’t notice where this look came from until I looked in the mirror. To my horror, I realized I gave that look to him. All the time, in fact!
Let’s move forward to the terrible twos (where we’re currently residing) and have a look. Well, he scoffs at age-appropriate activities (singing and dancing at story-time), and he’s prone to fits of rage when he’s frustrated. Hmm… me, me. I’ve known him to fly off into a whirl of unmitigated fury over a stuck car wheel or a tangled tow-truck cable. Me…
He’s loud, like me. He loves to run into a room, karate chop the air while shrieking gibberish until his throat’s raw. I understand this behavior, but then, I’m a middle child. I had to remind everyone of my presence or I would be forgotten. (If you’re a middle child, you know of what I speak.)
So, I think I have to own some responsibility here or my DNA needs to be held accountable. I admit that he’s got my personality– on steroids. But on the flip side, I’ve noticed some of my more quirky, endearing qualities in him as well.
He talks to himself, can play by himself, and likes to tell himself stories to fall asleep just like I did. When I was a kid, I could turn anything into a toy. My imagination knew no bounds. And if you think I’m exaggerating, I carried 2 litre bottles of soda around the grocery store instead of a babydoll. My mom’s toiletry bottles was a magical village of families in which I could act out daily dramas between Mrs. Perfume and Mr. Cologne and their tiny daughter, Nail Polish. (We won’t mention how this made my motherfurious when I left her bottles strewn all over the place, or the shame I felt whenever anyone caught me talking to bottles.) I’ve seen Gabe turn his hands into cars when I’ve taken his toys away. A half-eaten piece of bread becoming a tow-truck, a race car, or even a school bus.
All this brings me to a conclusion that has nothing to do with my research on parenting, but my hands-on experience behind the wheel. Parenting a walking, talking, genetic replica of yourself can be exasperating at times, illuminating at others, and frequently nostalgic. All the parenting books in the world can’t prepare you for the types of situations you’ll encounter or the type of person you’re gonna get when it’s all said and done. I really think the best way I can raise my children is by being the best version of myself. Every day. I need to show them by what I do, not what I say.
And I should probably start stockpiling drugs to get me through their teenage years. I don’t know if there’s enough mind-altering substances in this world to see me to the other side of raising a teenage me.