Life, Parenting

Giving Up Before He Even Gets Started

I had an interesting conversation with Dude this morning.

Actually. It started with an explosion. Most of our conversations start with an explosion between me and Dude. We both have tempers and all it takes is a spark to ignite those tempers and *BOOM*, off we go.

I had to unplug the Internet because he was throwing a fit about losing a game and that was the only way I could bring him back to reality.

Whenever he loses a game, he has a meltdown. He starts cursing and generally being an asshole. His reaction alarms me, actually. He gets SO upset whenever he loses a game.

A game. Something that doesn’t mean squat in the big picture.

I was waiting for my hair to dry so I could style it this morning when I heard him cursing in his room. Our internet connection was slow and it was making his game laggy.

Finally, I couldn’t handle it anymore and I unplugged the ‘net thinking that would calm him down.

It only made it worse. He was worried that since he abruptly disappeared and he was losing at the time, the game administrators would think he was bailing instead of sticking around and taking the loss on his record and ban him from the game.


But his reaction was really over the top.

When I asked him WHY he gets so upset over games, he said that it was because losing meant failing and when he failed at the ONLY THING HE WAS GOOD AT IN LIFE, it made him feel worse.

It hurts my heart whenever he talks like this. Honestly. I feel physically wounded whenever he talks about feeling like a failure.

Another example was yesterday in the office. I was asking him about his dream job. If he could do anything in the world, what would it be?

Instead of answering, he just shrugged and said, “what does it matter? It’ll never happen anyway. I’m not smart enough to get my dream job.”

*STAB* Seriously. It was if someone had stabbed me in the heart, it hurt THAT MUCH to hear him talking about himself like that.

So today, I “lectured” him. And not lectured in the traditional sense, but lectured him with the intention of showing him that he was completely wrong about himself. I didn’t yell at him. I kept my cool, but there were a few times I nearly broke down and cried. It really hurts my heart to see him so down on himself. He doesn’t have any confidence in himself, at all. He thinks he’s a loser and why should he try if he’s only going to fail?

I really don’t know why he feels this way. Maybe it’s because Kevin and I gave him everything he could possibly want in life, therefore, everything that he’s wanted has come easy for him and the thought of working for something, and possibly not succeeding, scares him. Maybe he’s jealous of his little brother, who is good at music and seems to already have an idea of what he wants to do with his life after he graduates. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t really “discovered” his talents yet and this is largely due to the fact that he hasn’t TRIED anything yet.

And yes, I told him that.

Dude talks as if he’s an 80-year old man looking back on his life and being supremely disappointed in himself.

He’s 18 years old!! He’s still just a kid in every way but physically. He hasn’t even gotten out there yet to see what he’s made of. He can’t be a failure because he hasn’t TRIED to do anything yet!

He’s given up before he has gotten started.

And yes, I told him all of that.

He’s such a WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my son, but because it’s TRUE. He’s kind, gentle and so much smarter than he gives himself credit for, both in personality and abilities. He has so much to offer the world and one day the world will realize it and appreciate him.

Yes. I told him all of that.

I also told him that Kevin and I have always done everything for him because we love him. That we will always love him through all of his successes and failures. That there was nothing he could do, or not do, that would ever change the fact that we loved him. Dude expects to never fail in life and when that happens, he just gives up, thinking he’s a failure at everything. It’s mathematically impossible for a person to succeed in everything he/she does. Everyone fails at one point in his/her life. Some people fail more than others. But it’s what people DO with that failure that really defines them as a person.

If there’s one thing I really admire about Kevin is that he never gives up. Ever. Even when he probably should. He’s like a bulldog when it comes to some things and about 95% of the time, he conquers whatever the problem was. My next question is, how do I make Dude see this? How do I teach Dude not to give up on himself before he’s even gotten started? I realize that I probably can’t teach him these things, that he will likely have to go out into the big, bad world and learn these things for himself. But I’m hoping that by telling him these things now, and by making sure he understands that Kevin and I love him, unconditionally, that we’re here to help him but we can’t hand him his future, he’s going to have to want it, and work for it, that that will convince him to at least TRY to step out into the world and pursue whatever it is he wants to pursue.

In some ways, in a lot of ways, I’m SO GRATEFUL for this upcoming job. In addition to being excited to getting back out into the working world and making money again, I think it’s going to be really good for Dude. I won’t be around to lean on anymore. He won’t be able to gauge his emotions/moods/actions off of me anymore. He’ll be forced to stand on his own two feet because he doesn’t depend on Kevin like he depends on me. I catch Dude watching me all the time and often times, whether he’s aware of it or not, he mimics me in so many ways.

He’s always done this.

So I think my not being around might be the best thing for him. He’ll be FORCED to deal with things on his own. Mommy won’t be there to hold his hand or do things for him anymore. Even though I’ve tried NOT to do these things over the past several years, and I’ve made a lot of progress, still, I was there. And this is not to say that I won’t be there for him now that I’m working, but there will be large pockets of time I will be physically absent and he’ll have no choice but to do things on his own.

He doesn’t act this way with Kevin, so I’m not worried about him transferring all of these dependent feelings on to him. And I also think it’s a man thing – Dude just acts more like a man around Kevin.

I’m confident that Kevin will help him find a job without holding his hand while doing it. Having Dude come up to the office during the weekdays has been HUGELY successful. I can already tell a difference in Dude’s demeanor. He still has a long way to go, but I can see we’re making progress and I’m encouraged.

In addition to my absence being a good thing for Dude, I’ll be setting an example for him, too. I told him this morning that I was pretty nervous about starting my new job; he looked surprised by that admission. I often wonder if I can handle it, if I’ll do a good job, if my co-workers will like me, etc. But I refuse to give in to that fear, I refuse to allow that fear to control my life. I told him that everyone feels nervous starting something new, that that was normal. But if we gave into that fear, then we’d all be stuck at home in the fetal position sucking our thumbs.

Being nervous was part of growing up – it just comes with the territory.

So. We’ll see how this whole thing shakes out. I pray that he can get a job fairly soon and that it’s in an industry that he can enjoy and learn from. And who knows, maybe he can advance within that industry and do what he really wants to do, which is computers.

But he won’t KNOW if that’s even possible until he TRIES.

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be”