After the comments I received on my last post, I wanted to write a scathing post to Mr. Bill. But I waited and calmed down. It hasn't, however, left my mind. And so today, I'm going to address the issue in a calm and rational manner.
I work in higher education. We're all about getting students to fill out surveys on our teaching abilities and the services offered to students. We all say, more than often, that disgruntled students fill these things out more often than happy students. We are more likely to reach out when things are going bad rather than good. I'm not much different than that.
And so, yes, I often write about the struggles I have with Ethan. I've made it no secret that my oldest is not the "easy" child. But here's the thing. There was a time when I had the TIME to post every day. When I talked about the struggles and successes regularly. I no longer have that time. In fact, I'm procrastinating that damn dissertation to write THIS post.
This is a blog. It does not cover the day-to-day happenings in my house. It does not cover every aspect of our lives. It's a snap shot. And often, it's my outlet for venting my frustrations in the realm of parenting. Maybe it shouldn't be. And I know that throughout those posts, it also comes off as though I'm turning a blind eye to issues because I expound on the "great" things Ethan is and does. But I do that because I know that someday my child will be able to read these posts in a neat little book. I never want him to feel as though I only had complaints or that when things were hard, I didn't love him or want him. Because that is never the truth. Coming from a place where I often felt that way, I always want my son to know that while he was definitely a challenge, I never for a single second stopped loving or wanting him.
I don't need to defend myself, I know. And I also know there are plenty of people out there that think I should just "beat his ass." That I'm setting him up for failure. But here's the thing. I lived in a house where the rod was anything but spared. Ask me how that worked out for me and my siblings. Not well. Not well at all. I also know that I have a family member that raised four beautiful children without spanking them. All four of them are now adults and couldn't be better human beings. It can be done. It takes persistence and constant education and a willingness to keep looking for the best options out there in this parenting world.
I suppose the thing to do would be to post on all the NORMAL days with something like, "Today was a normal day. Nothing major. No outbursts." Would that help people understand that these things that happen aren't daily occurrences? But I won't because quite frankly, I don't need justification for the way I'm raising my child.
He is a young child. And he will learn. He will have to learn how to deal with authority and people he may not "brush" along with well. But right now, he's FOUR. Right now, he should feel LOVED by his caretakers. I don't get to be with him every single day all day long. I live in a two-income household where we couldn't survive with one income. So yes, I want my child while he is young to feel loved by those that get to spend more waking hours with my son than I do. I don't think that is wrong. Not one bit.
I am the first to admit that I cave easier than my husband. In this world of parenting Ethan, my eyes are wide open. But I have gotten better. I have taken steps to learn. I am constantly doing what I can to improve my parenting for the SAKE of my child. And Ethan is learning. We have come so far in the past year in terms of outbursts and control and general listening skills. Does that mean we're all perfect? Hell no. You name me one parent that's perfect. One parent that has it all figured out and NEVER falters. That parent doesn't exist. Perfection in parenting DOESN'T exist.
My expectations for Ethan are pretty high. But I don't think I have to resort to "beating his ass" when he has bad days. We are working through the best methods to handle those days and teaching him ways to cope with those over-emotional states. And we are making progress.
Most days are good. Most days he just needs to be reminded to make the "good" choices. Most days he may need a little reminder to use his coping skills, but he's getting the hang of it and is willing to talk about it.
And for Bill with his vast experience of being "like" Ethan when he was younger....I learned early on that my experiences do not transfer to my children's experiences. They are not me. They do not respond the way I responded as a child because they cannot be clumped into a one-size-fits-all box. They are PEOPLE. Individuals with their own personalities, there own range of emotions, there own intelligence, there own need for love. Each person perceives and receives those things differently.
Ethan knows I am his parent. He knows that we make the decisions. That doesn't stop him from being "persistent." Maybe some would believe I should STOMP that quality out of him. Kill it now. But I believe this is a quality that will serve him well when he's older. My job is to stand firm in my decisions despite his persistence. My job is to foster that quality while also remaining consistent in my choices and my rules. I can commend his persistence without giving in to it. I think that is the better path.
Nobody, other than my husband, knows my child as well as I do. Nobody in this virtual world knows all the ins and outs and day to days of living with Ethan. And most days, he's a great kid. Always high-spirited, always pushing the envelope, always thinking outside the box, and always LOUD, but a great kid nonetheless. He's inquisitive and joyful and has a wonderful disposition. He's a young boy and acts like a young boy.
Thing is, it's so easy to judge other people and tell them what they're doing wrong. But what I've learned throughout the past four years of his life is that unless you have a child like Ethan, you could never understand because he doesn't fall within the confines of "normal." He's exhausting. He's on the high end of "challenging." He's simply "more" of everything. More spirited, more persistent, more inquisitive, more boisterous. More everything. But all that "more" makes Ethan who he is and while it is my job to guide him and teach him how to "live" within the confining structures of society, I have no desire to kill or stomp out the essence of who he is. Yes, it makes parenting all the more difficult when you have a child that is "more," but the rewards are often "more" too. And I would take my high-spirited, emotional, inquisitive, challenging child over a docile, do-everything-I-say child any day of the week.
Last night Ethan said, "Adults learn from kids, too." Yes, we do. And the things Ethan teaches me are things I never would've considered before he entered our world. I don't have it all figured out, but I do know that I will always continue to better myself as a parent for him and his brother. I will always be open to seeing my own weaknesses and exploring how I can change them into strengths for the sake my children. And I will foster his spirit while trying to provide him with the skills he needs to become a great man someday.
My glass house only has glass in one room that offers a glimpse into our world.