One of my goals this summer is to have Xavier learn how to ride his bike without training wheels. It’s not going so well. He doesn’t love riding his bike period, I have to cajole him to get out there and ride around the neighborhood. Then he typically makes a big deal about it and rides around like a little old man, tooling around at 2 mph and braking every second. God help us if he falls over at all, even if he doesn’t actually hurt himself it’s like I just threw him off the Empire State Building. (One of his favorite phrases when he gets hurt is “You made me get hurt!” Mmmhmm. Ok kid. Keep working on the blame-shifting.) I’m finding it extremely frustrating and part of me just wants to give up.
Sometimes I find myself judging my own kids…they’re not as smart as I’d like or as kind as I want, they’re not athletic or outgoing or daring or…whatever. I look at them and wish they’d just be different in that one (or two, or ten) area. I find myself comparing them to other kids, to myself when I was a kid, to Bill as a kid. Then I feel awful–Why can’t I just let them be who they are? Why do I want them to change? Julia is kind of shy and loves clothes and fashion and hates reading and doesn’t really like school and hates anything where you have to work hard. But she is sweet and loving and wants to please people and is silly and loves to laugh. Kendall can be sneaky and mean and pouty and has a terrible martyr complex and hates math and wants to read all the time and play Minecraft and doesn’t have much athleticism. But she is compassionate and thoughtful and always makes you feel special and loves to sing and act and is incredibly creative. Xavier is into math and science and Pokemon and Minecraft and plays sports whether he wants to or not and is semi-athletic and quiet and kind of nerdy…but he is a snuggler and a lover and super smart and very creative. None of those things are bad things!! Why do I want them to be something, someone different?
At the same time though, I don’t want them to just settle and get in some sort of rut, some sort of assigned “This Is Who I Am and I Won’t Change” mode. I want to encourage them to try new things, to push themselves, to see a different perspective. To be brave and adventurous, to not miss out on all the amazing things the world has to offer by settling into some small, comfy box that I never try to push them out of occasionally. I want them to have all the things I never had, to try all the things I never tried, to really LIVE life and experience everything the world has to offer and to not be settled into themselves at the ages of 12, 9 and 7.
So how do you balance these things? How do I keep from getting frustrated when they aren’t who I want them to be, but still push them to be more than they are? Where is that line and how do you straddle it without going over into one extreme or the other?
Just one more parenting dilemma to try and figure out I suppose. In the meantime, watch out for me hanging onto a small boy on an orange bike, huffing and puffing as he peddles around trying to balance on his bike.