Very much like the title says, I have been told I am “epically unfun” by my three teens. When I remind them that the ONLY time I get cross with them is 1. When they do not do what they’re asked, 2. When they lie and tell me they did what was asked, 3. Go out of their way to complain or whine about what they have to do, and finally 4. Throw an attitude and make what’s asked of them torture for those around. I explain that if they were pleasant with the knowledge that they have been given so much despite what they’ve lost; they should learn at their age that reciprocation is part of the deal.
What surprises me at every turn is how fundamentally wrong I am with the expectations. I expect kids to be decent little happy beings? My bad! Kids are great when you’re doting on them, giving them things, telling them how much you love them, but speak of disappointment and they turn into the little devils they are with all the eye rolling of a teenage queen and the lip speak of satan himself.
The thing is that in my head I think, “Well, they will understand if I just explain it to them.” You know what that brings? More opportunity for them to use my words against me, to manipulate an outcome they would rather have, and ultimately I still end up being the bad guy. I wonder, is it this hard for all parents?
Some people will “hate” on the truth that kids are not always the angelic creatures that they show on TV. Kids are sometimes filled with contempt for their parents. Kids who have lost parents like mine have conjure even more sympathy than normal. If you set them in line parents want to tell you, “Well, they’ve lost their parents.” As though you don’t already know. Rules have to be followed, restrictions and boundaries are part of life and ultimately building character isn’t easy. Let’s face it we all wish we could have ice cream parties and cake. At some point the daily list of homework, chores, and simply being respectful is going to come up.
I have to remind myself that I have been here before. I’ve raised two amazing adult children. Both independent and capable of achieving great success. They’re fine, despite I always felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants. These kids will be too. Not because I’m a great drill sergeant, but because I love them. My boundaries are to tell them they have restrictions they shouldn’t cross in life. My rules are to teach them independence. My firmness comes from the fact that I know that unless they are successful in being in a harsh world when they’re of age, they won’t be happy. It’s in love that I commit to teaching them there is a way to accomplish goals, and then there is just being lazy. You cannot do both.
Sadly, I still sit and wonder how I can say something and it be turned into something completely different from it’s intent. I sigh, heavily sometimes. I wonder if anything I do will enhance any part of who they are to become. I wonder if they love me in some small way or if they even know the harshness of the circumstances we find ourselves in. What do they really think? How do they feel?
I have to do what I think is best and hope that flying by the seat of my very wildly inappropriate pants won’t cause harm or foul to these precious souls I love with every fiber of my being. I pray that if I can sometimes get myself out of the way, they might actually learn the lessons they need to, and hopefully one day find happiness of their own. That’s what I think about all the time.