Being a parent is hard. I don't think that anyone on the planet will ever tell you that it isn't. But at my house, being a parent to Braden is probably the hardest thing I have ever done. And it is not that he is any worse than Amelia is. But Amelia and I are two peas in a pod. She is my mini-me. I get her. She is my loud-outgoing-stubborn-hogs the spotlight-do things her way whether you like it or not-kid. Or to sum her up, me.
On the other hand, Braden and I are as unalike as two people can get, and yet so much the same. Braden is my introvert. You may not be able to tell it because he is not one of those introverts that sits in a corner afraid to speak to anyone. But he is most comfortable when he is around people he knows in a place where he is not the spotlight. I don't get that. I am happiest in a room full of people where all of the attention is on me. It also makes it hard at home because sometimes he just likes to be alone. So I play with Amelia. And then at the end of the day I feel bad because I spent more time with her than I did with him. It is also hard when we are in a situation that he is not necessarily comfortable with because I don't get that. I don't walk into a room and worry about meeting people. I walk into a room and take it by storm. So sometimes I get frustrated at him because he isn't that way. He'd rather hang back and do his own thing, and I sometimes mistake that behavior for rude and get frustrated at him. Which I think in turn makes him more uncomfortable in the situation.
And this morning the poor kid woke up in tears because he had to do something that he wasn't comfortable with – speak in front of the class. He had to learn a nursery rhyme and dress to match and recite it in front of the class. I had him learn a new rhyme, that up until last night he was struggling with remembering. It didn't occur to me until well after the epic morning meltdown and subsequent tearful drive to school that getting in front of the class was hard enough for him. I wanted him to challenge himself to learn something new, while not realizing that he was already tackling something really scary for him. I didn't think about it because I've never been that way. I've spoken literally in front of thousands of people before and never gotten super nervous. As a matter of fact, I thrive on those kinds of situations. When I was 16 I was the keynote speaker at a Governor's Conference and I ATE IT UP! I did get a report from the teacher that he did a great job, so we may just have to go dance in the rain this afternoon to celebrate (his rhyme was Rain, Rain Go Away so he's already dressed in the boots and raincoat).
But the biggest thing that scares me about parenting him is the way that we are alike. Braden and I are both people-pleasers (I realize this may be hard for some of you to believe about me, but just ask my mother or pretty much any teacher I ever had from K-12). And specifically that Braden would live and die to please me. And what worries me is that I love to be busy. I love to be in the mix. I love being around people and trying new things and being praised for a job well done. I love to be and do all of the things that Braden is not. My concern is that Braden wants so badly to please me that he'll do the things that he thinks I want him to do instead of doing the things in this life that will truly make him happy.
Sitting at a computer I can think about how I'll never let this happen again. That I'll never be upset because he is scared in social situations or mad because he is upset about speaking in front of a class full of people. But I know that isn't true. As much as I wish that it was, I've been me for 32 years and 11 months. I've not ever had to think about being someone else because I'm happy with who I am. But as a parent I've got to start thinking about what it means to be someone else. What it means to be a 5 year old little boy that wants nothing more than to be left alone and loved by his mother for who he is happy being.