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Friday, November 05, 2010

Holding my breath

I've documented our struggle with Ryan a few times before. He's always been a. . .let's say "moody" child. Whether it's due to just normal preteen-ness or his brain injury or what, we'll never know for certain. All I know is that the last eighteen months have become increasingly difficult. Seeing him explode over minor things, while we stand there dumbfounded, has led to some days where I feel as an utter failure as a parent. A lot of the explosions lately have had to do with showering and helping around the house. He'll go into a complete rage screaming that we pick on him, and then when he's sent to his room, he goes nuclear.

It's really hard to like him sometimes. I feel a little guilty saying that, but I think parents should be able to admit that and not be judged. I love him to pieces, I'd lay down my life for that kid, but there are days where on just a basic human to human interaction level, I don't like him very much.

I was getting a bit concerned about the road we were headed down. His tantrums were getting worse, and he's not even hit puberty yet. I was afraid of what is going to happen when we add hormones to this mix. So one day a few weeks ago, I reached out. I reached out while he's still at an age where he actually still cares what his parents think about things. It was on one of his good days, he was calm, I was calm, the other kids stayed occupied quietly in the other room, probably building a nuclear warhead, but at least it was quiet. We were able to talk.

I let him know things that maybe we should have let him know a while ago. I saw his astonishment when I told him that his father and I actually want him to turn out better than us. I asked him if that surprised him, and he said it did. I acknowledged what a struggle a lot of things are for me and his dad, and that nothing would make us prouder than to see him turn into an adult who DOESN'T have those same struggles. I explained to him that it's why we do some of the things we do. Why we ride him about those things. So he'll learn now the things that we weren't taught as children.

Case in point-I'll just come out and admit it right now. I'm not the world's greatest housekeeper. I try really hard, but it's been a learning curve for me. One I'm still on and probably will be for the rest of my life. You see, I was never taught how to keep a house clean. Ever. I'm not going to air all my family's dirty laundry (pun sort of intended) on the internet, but. . .when you're sitting there thinking "Wait, what does she mean she was never taught? Does that mean. . .?" Yes, it probably means what you are thinking, and we'll just leave it at that. So I went from being a teenager in that environment, to being a wife with four kids, in eight years. There never was a time for me to learn.

I told all of that to Ryan, and I told him that's why we ask him to help around the house. That's why we ask him to clear the table, or unload the dishwasher, or pick up his room. So he'll learn the things I didn't. So he won't have to struggle as much as I have. So he can just be BETTER. (I also broached the showering topic lightly, saying that when we ask him to bathe, we are not being mean. We're doing it because we care about him and we want him to be healthy.)

We had this great conversation and I got to bare my soul to him a little bit, and it seems he listened. It's actually had a positive effect. He's really been trying lately, and I've been sure to show my appreciation when he does. He hugs me and talks with me in ways that he hasn't since he was much younger. I actually *like* being around him. Don't get me wrong, he still has his moments, but overall things are better.

I may have actually gotten through to him. So here I sit, holding my breath and hoping that it sticks.


Jim said...

It will stick.

And there will still be backsliding.

Hopefully, like Jon, you can appeal to his "Can you be a fellow man and help fix/help/clean/move this?," followed by lots of thanks when he does. Never underestimate the leverage of the male ego for getting things done. :o)

And I'm working on raising my 2nd through 5th and STILL feel like a failure at least once a week, so don't take it personally, either. While all I can really claim toward my first is benign neglect, you turned out well. So maybe there's hope.

Excuse me, I have to return to harassing and haranguing Jon about his homework.

Meghann said...

Dad-Thanks. I did read a few sentences on a blog recently, can't remember which one, that said something to the effect of "It doesn't matter what you do, they're going to turn into teenagers that hater you, and then they'll turn into adults and be just fine." It gave me some hope.