On one hand, we expect our kids to do their absolute best.
But at the same time, they need to learn their limitations.
But in teaching them their limitations, are we inadvertently teaching them to give up too soon?
But when we push them too hard, are we telling them that we expect them to be perfect?
And through all of this, what if we are sending out the message that if they aren’t perfect, that must mean they are failures.
And if they fail at one thing, does this mean they fail at everything?
AARGH. This parenting gig is HARD.
Dude and Kevin had a minor blow out this weekend. For once, I wasn’t involved. This must be a new record.
Wait. Scratch that. I did inadvertently start it.
Every weekend, the boys get out to help Kevin mow the grass. Jazz drives the riding mower, Dude is in charge of trimming with the push mower.
One of the biggest reasons we assigned the boys these particular duties was because Jazz was simply too small and too weak to push the mower.
But he’s grown. And I thought it would be a good chance for him to build up the muscles in his arms and chest (he has a rather prominent breast bone that sticks out, WAY out, [he gets that from Kevin] and I’m constantly
nagging suggesting that he do push ups or something to build up his chest and even that bone out).
So, I told Kevin that we should shake things up this weekend and ask Dude to mow with the riding mower and Jazz with the push mower.
Things were fine. Until the end.
The boys finished up and came into the house to take showers. Only, Kevin found a few spots that Dude missed and instead of fixing them himself, (which he would have done at any other time), I told him that Dude needed to learn that he can’t do a half-ass job on something – he needed to not only finish the job, but finish the job correctly.
Kevin asked him to go back out and mow the spots he missed.
And Dude threw an absolute FIT. As in a full-blown 16-year, UGLY, wild, and totally uncalled for temper tantrum. In fact, it was so bad, that it made Kevin mad and he grounded his butt, for a solid week. (I got him to reduce the sentence because I felt like some of the attitude was our fault. Read on …)
The kid was really, really upset.
I talked Dude back off the ledge and he finally tells me what is really bothering him.
He doesn’t feel like he ever does anything right. He feels like he fails at everything. Nothing he does is ever QUITE good enough for us.
When tempers cooled and everyone has had enough time to calm down and eat something (because you’d be surprised how mellow men are when their stomachs are full), we talked.
Well, I talked to both Kevin and Dude, separately.
I shouldn’t expect perfection.
I tell him I don’t expect him to be perfect, and yet, don’t I? I expect him to do his best. I expect him to try his hardest. I expect him to conquer his battles.
But what if his best isn’t good enough? What if he has reached his limitations and I’m putting unnecessary pressure on him? The boy can’t succeed at everything – it’s impossible. But he’s so afraid of failing that he doesn’t even try.
That’s why he buries himself in his videos games – because he’s GOOD at them. He feels powerful. He feels in control.
He doesn’t feel those things in real life.
Some of this fear of failure is due to his perfectionist “must win at all costs” personality. He’s INSANELY competitive, always has been. In fact, that’s the biggest reason he would never try out for sports – he knew he just couldn’t handle the thought of losing. And he couldn’t handle disappointing himself, his team mates, or us.
But part of his fear stems from our expectations. It’s so much easier to just not go there than to try and fail. It doesn’t help that Jazz is our “golden” child. Everything that kid does, he does well. And we praise him for it. And we brag to others about him. And we try not to do that too much in front of Dude because we don’t want him to be jealous of his brother, but I KNOW it’s hard for him.
Dude just hasn’t found his “groove” yet. He will. I’m confident. But in the meantime, he’s stuck in limbo. He wants to do well. He wants to please us. But he’s scared to try.
And at the same time, we’re pushing him. We EXPECT him to do his best. Actually, we don’t expect him, we demand it. But at the same time, I don’t want to put too much pressure on him. Everyone cracks from too much stress at some point.
The problem is – how much is too much? If we keep excusing his reluctance to TRY, aren’t we hurting him in the long run? But if we push him too hard now, aren’t we hurting him at this moment?
Aargh. It’s so hard to know how much to push and when to pull back.
We (I) explained all of this to Dude; he’s a smart kid and I think he gets it, but he’s unsure, timid, uncomfortable — in short, he’s a hormonal teenager.
Though this was another learning experience for me, I have walked away from the issue just as clueless as I was when I walked into it. There are no answers. All I can do is try to do the best I can do for him.
Let’s hope I’m good enough for HIM.
Claire McCaskill was in Springfield for a town hall meeting today. I didn’t go, but watched it live via ustream.
I couldn’t hear half of what was going on, but I did hear how passionate people were. There were several moments where the theater just exploded with enthusiasm and other moments the walls reverberated from the boos.
Here’s what I don’t understand about these town hall meetings. They are set up so that people can ask questions about issues, right? And when those questions are asked, the politicians do what they do best – they hedge around and never truly answer the question. I “get” why they can’t simply say yes or no, they have to protect their political careers after all, but OMG, it’s frustrating to not ever get a straight answer out of these pinheads.
And then, on top of the run around, politicians stand up there and scoff and turn up their noses at their opposition claiming that what they’re hearing is bogus and totally ridiculous and yet they never bother to disprove the claims.
Why couldn’t town hall meetings be set up like this:
Citizens copy the portions of the proposed bill they have questions about. It comes STRAIGHT from the bill – no second hand, diluted, “edited” versions.
They then give those excerpts to the government official and ask their questions – is what is in this bill true or false? For this is what I understand it to mean. Am I wrong? If so, please tell me what it really means.
“Senator, here are three sections of the bill that I’m most concerned about:”
Pg 59 lines 21-24- Govt will have direct access to your bank accounts for electronic funds transfer
“WHY does the government need direct access to my finances and an electronic funds transfer to … where?”
Pg 239 Line 14-24-Govt will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors, low income, poor will be affected. Expendable.
“So the people who need health care the most will be denied services? Why does the government think it has the power to decide who is expendable and who is not?”
Pg 430 Lines 11-15- The Govt will decide what level of treatment you will have at end of life.
“So, my life has been reduced to a dollar amount? And correct me if I’m wrong, but WHY exactly does the government feel the need to play God with my life?”
And then make the damn official stand up there, with a copy of the bill in hand, and DISPROVE the fears, the questions, the concerns. Only THEN will people get the answers they need.
It may not be what we want to hear, but at least we’ll know where we stand so we can make the plan better. People interpret the bill to mean one thing, and yet, the officials claim that’s not what it means and refuse to offer an alternate explanation. If it doesn’t mean what we think it means, then what the hell DOES it mean??
I can’t tell you the number of questions that McCaskill dodged today by simply saying, “that’s simply not true. That is incorrect. You don’t have your information right.”
And then leave it at that!! She didn’t even bother proving us wrong! How is this helpful!? How does this reassure people that things are under control? That our concerns are being addressed?
The short answer? It doesn’t!
If we TRULY want answers from our elected officials, we need to pin them to a board, shove the actual bill in their faces and wait for them to squirm their way out of the explanation because from where I’m sitting? The TEXT in this asinine bill is literally black and white.
It’s called cold, hard facts. And nothing will get done in this country until we stop with the “he said / she said” mentality and start talking about what the bill actually SAYS instead of what people PERCEIVE what the bill says.
We need to make our government ACCOUNTABLE for it’s actions.
(By the way, here’s a copy of the bill if you haven’t looked at it).
Oh, and I just found the entire town hall meeting here.
And while I’m on a ranting roll here …
I’m a writer. So, I naturally pay attention to how people write. I pay attention to how they say it and I especially pay attention to syntax – I honestly can’t help myself. It’s just an ingrained habit.
A lot of times, if I see someone has used the wrong word for something or has made a simple there/their/they’re mistake, it’s no big deal. We’re all human. Heck, MY prose is certainly not perfect. I make mistakes. And a lot of times, if I write ya’ll or ain’t it’s because that’s how I talk and given this venue, it’s appropriate and even appreciated.
It keeps it real.
But I judge. If I’m reading someone and they consistently make mistakes, their grammar is consistently bad, then I lose interest. I sit back, cross my arms, shake my head and assume that the person who is writing the nonsense is actually an idiot.
Or worse, a lazy idiot.
Because if you think people don’t judge you by your writing, then you’re naive.
Again, I have a lot of patience with people’s writing because it’s a “thing” with me. I’m overly sensitive, I guess. I went to school and studied language – it’s just part of who I am. And I’ve had people tell me that they were afraid, or intimidated, to write me because of my “writer” status.
And I feel bad about that. I don’t want to make people uncomfortable and AGAIN, I’m okay with about 98% of what I read from other people. I look past the syntax and concentrate on the message behind the prose.
But there ARE a few things that drive me absolutely bat sh*t crazy (excuse my language).
And one of those things?
COMMONLY misusing LOSE and LOOSE.
I don’t know WHAT is going on, but people, seriously, when you LOSE something, it’s not spelled LOOSE.
I’m seeing this more and more across the internet board. It’s becoming ACCEPTABLE, it appears, to use LOOSE in place of LOSE.
I can not hold my tongue anymore. I solemnly swear that if I see a blogger consistently using the wrong LOSE/LOOSE combination, I’m going to call them out.
I have to. We must stop this trend. It seems silly, I know. But if we don’t start sticking up for our language, there’s no telling how low it will go before we’re *back to talking like cavemen.
In fact, if you follow me on Twitter, you KNOW this is a constant thorn in my side.
So, this is fair warning. Misuse the LOSE/LOOSE combination and **I will make fun of you.
You’ve been warned.
*I don’t believe in evolution so the whole referring back to the caveman days was said because it sounded good, not because I believe that nonsense.
**I just wanted to make sure that ya’ll knew that this whole rant? Is supposed to be taken with a grain of salt. I’m serious, yet I’m not. I wouldn’t REALLY make fun of you.
Or would I? 😉