Nothing has made me become more aware of my own flaws than my children. I mean, it’s not that I ever thought I was perfect. In fact I think I’ve always been aware of my flaws and quite self-conscious of them, attempting to hide my flaws whenever I could. However there are times where I feel as though I’m looking in a mirror and it isn’t always the pretty stuff that’s being reflected.
When you are pregnant, you dream about what your children are going to look like. What traits of yours they will have; will they develop a love of reading? Will they be athletic or love to bake? You don’t ever sit back and think maybe they’ll have a spiteful streak or a temper like their mother. Will they be impatient and forgetful? Your weaknesses usually aren’t the first things that pop into mind.
Mr. T. may look very much like Mr. C. but he definitely has my personality and it’s not as though there is some magic cell that wipes out all of the bad and just keeps the good, unfortunately the flaws are passed along too. I am seeing myself reflected through him and I am becoming hyperaware of not only my positives but of the parts of me that have frustrated loved ones for years.
First lesson, I whine. I never realize that I whined, until Mr. T. starting whining ALL THE TIME. Every time he doesn’t like an answer I give him, or doesn’t want to do something he’s been asked to do or sometimes just in normal conversation he whines. Have you ever seen those deer whistles you put on cars to scare the deer away so they don’t run in front of your car while driving?? Well I imagine that this is what those must sound like! Eventually the tone started to sound familiar. When Mr. T doesn’t do as I ask the first time my voice rises up a notch and the words begin to draw out. Eventually the entire conversation is in whinese. He’s whining at me and I’m whining back. It must sound like nails on a chalkboard to those around us. I have now become more aware that not only do I whine with my children, but sometimes I do it with Mr.C, my parents and I’ve even caught myself doing it at work!!! OMG I”m a whiner! I sound like a 4 year old boy!
Just like me, Mr. T has a need for routine and structure which isn’t a flaw in itself but it’s the reaction to the lack of routine that can be. Lack of structure or routine can lead to some very emotional outbursts. Every morning,, the first thing he does is ask if we are staying home today or going to school. I now realize that he needs to “plan” his day in his mind, just as I do. Sometimes when our plans change from what we’ve already told him he will react emotionally and not want to do whatever it is was decided. It was so frustrating to me until I realized…wait a minute I do that too! When I have a plan in my head and a wrench gets thrown into that plan I can become totally discombobulated and react emotionally. It’s not my intention but it’s almost like I need to be given time to reprocess this change in plans. Since this light went on I try to keep Mr. T in the loop on our plans so he feels prepared, but I also try to be a bit more understanding with him when things don’t go as expected.
I also started to notice that both Mr. T. and I have a tendency to get very agitated when we are overscheduled. When we are trying to fit too many things into a small block of time. I started to notice a pattern to some of Mr. T’s misbehaviour. When he doesn’t have much quiet time at home he can get flustered which results in him ‘acting up’. When it happens I feel what he’s feeling, the overwhelming need to just stop. I am trying my best to provide him with that downtime which can be difficult in the busy world we live in.
Next there is the temper. Ooooh do we have a temper. Mr. T. gets frustrated very easily and when he does he yells. He can be loud and it literally hurts my ears. But it was watching him lose his temper that made me realize what I’m like when I get frustrated. It was a tough lesson for me to learn. NOt an easy realization for me to come to, that I handle my frustration in the same way a 4-year-old does.
While Mr. T. has been like a mirror constantly reflecting my own strengths as well as my shortcomings, my realization that he is just like me, has helped me learn how to relate to him even more.
When I see Mr. T. getting frustrated and I notice his voice starting to get louder and whinier and more desperate I am better able to look at the situation and determine what the problem is. For example, during a recent meltdown Mr. T. was having with Mr. C. I could feel Mr. C’s tension levels rising. I sat back and observed the situation and instinctively knew what the problem was. I quietly walked over to Mr. C. and said “listen to him” as Mr. C looked at me in confusion I repeated ” listen to him, actually hear what he’s saying”. I thought of how frustrated I get when I feel as though I’m not being heard and I was able to see that same frustration in Mr. T’s eyes. Mr C. bent down looked his son in the eye and as he really heard the words coming out of his mouth the situation was diffused.
I am learning that although it is not easy for me to resolve my shortcomings overnight, especially considering I have had 30+ years to master these weaknesses, I can use this knowledge to my advantage to strengthen my relationship with Mr. T. I understand him in a way that no one else does. Because there is this part of him that is just like me.
There are so many moments of Mr T’s life where I wonder how I possibly could have created something so utterly perfect? To me, he is perfect in every way. He is brilliant. He is kind and thoughtful. He is loyal. He is loving and affectionate. He is wonderful. I am however, not blind to his flaws, in fact I might be more aware of them because we share so many. None of us are perfect, in fact all of the complexities, both positive and negative are what make us interesting. I think the best thing that I can do is use my personal in-depth knowledge to guide Mr. T through some tough times. To better relate to him and build on our relationship as he gets older. Hopefully I can help him accept his flaws rather than him spend his life trying to be perfect. He is already probably as perfect as they come.