Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Real People

Pissed off my 13-year old this evening. Well, I guess it had to happen sometime, and now is as good a time as any. I asked him to bring his plate up out of the family room and back to the kitchen since I was ready to start the dishwasher. “Just a sec,” he yelled from the basement. I gave him more than just a sec, busy as I was with the final loading of dishes, but when I asked the second time – some 3 to 4 minutes later – I got a testy “I’m COMing” as a response. I fired back, “You’ve had more than enough time and I need the plate NOW.” I added “please” at the end of that sentence, actually. Up he came with a murderous look on his face.

I asked him if he wanted to clean the kitchen. He didn’t answer.

He will live.

I grew up in a home where your parents got mad at you frequently and didn’t talk to you other than to yell or to point out some wrongdoing on your part. We children seem to have been more nuisances than bundles of joy, I’m afraid. I have tried, with varying success, to rewrite that script now that I am a parent. Oftentimes I do get it right, and sometimes I don’t – and it always requires thought on my part.

I actually got it right tonight. Said son and I have a good relationship and my annoying him tonight is not going to damage that. He has a problem responding to requests in anything that resembles a timely manner, and his father and I are working on that particular trait with him.

But I still have to second guess myself so often in this parenting thing, trying to be sure I don’t lapse into the old script of just pointing out the wrongdoing, not ever really talking or relating as fellow human beings on the road of life. I don’t want my kids to think they are nuisances and that we can’t be real people together.

It’s a tightrope. But if God is refining me – and He is – then this is one of the methods by which He’s doing it. I should be grateful, although I confess I’m usually not. I watch other parents doing their job with seemingly no effort at all. And then I look at how messy and effort-ful my own parenting has been/can be. Argh.

I should be humming “Refiner’s Fire” right now, with its bold assertion that my “one desire is to be holy.” But I think the somewhat whine-y “Oh, for a Faith That Will Not Shrink” might be nearer my current feelings.

That said, I’m heading downstairs to the family room to see what he’s up to and find out if I can join in or at least hang out. And talk. Like real people.

- Catherine


Christy said...

Love your thoughts about actually talking to our teens like fellow humans. I need to remember that.

Catherine said...

Thanks, Christy!

I learned with my daughter that the shared sense of facing life together was important -- at some level, that is, given that we're still parent and child and it was my job to raise her. It's been harder with my youngest son -- and still, after all this time, I tend to lapse into the old script if I'm not careful. But I do find that somehow the bumps in the road -- the times when I have to speak firmly or administer discipline -- become less dire because of that shared sense of purpose between us.

Anyway, that's just my 2 cents. There are days when I still think I'm ill qualified as a parent.