Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Exasperation = Epiphany?


I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Will and some of his friends.  For this I feel fortunate, as he has a great group of friends.  As in, they are great kids.  Nice kids.  Exactly the type of kids you want your children to befriend.

Of course, they are 11.  Still little boys (a little).  Still naïve and oblivious to drama.  And also to girls.  Boys in the last hurrahs of elementary school.  Boys who are silly and goofy and still enjoy potty humor.  Boys whose mustaches are made of Gatorade, soda or milk, instead of actual whiskers.

Kids straddling the fine line between mature and, well, not so much.

Boys are different than girls in this way.  Girls, once they plant their feet in the land where maturity reigns, are loathe to ever go back.  Boys…they keep running away from the shore line, hesitant to be so firmly planted.  Not. Just. Yet.

As a girl, I am sometimes confounded by my son and his behavior.  As a parent, often this behavior downright makes me cringe.  Between forcing him to take showers, reminding him to use his napkin, to wash his hands, to brush his teeth, to hang up his towels, to put his clothes away neatly, to use deodorant, not to stick his brother's head under his shirt in his sweaty armpits, not to fling his dirty socks across the room, and to wear shoes (how often do I look outside, only to find him throwing the lacrosse ball in his socks? I’m not going to answer that. It’s embarrassing.).

This weekend, I sat in the pouring rain waiting for lacrosse game after lacrosse game.  The fields were muddy and swampy and, well, let’s just say I have never seen so much mud.  Red clay mud...the worst kind.  In the rain, Will is wearing his socks with slides.  While running around throwing the ball with some of his friends, his shoes get sucked into the mud and he continues his sprint, madly laughing, cradling the ball, through the ankle deep mud in his socks.  I happened to witness this event as I was waiting for the porta potty.  Exasperation.  There we go with the SOCKS again!  I mean, who thinks it is hysterical to run around the mud in yours socks?  Next to porta potties.  In the rain.  When you have to wear those socks later in a game.

He did.  And so did his friends.  I thought it was ridiculous, and started to admonish him for being ridiculous.  And in my exasperation, I had an epiphany.  Because, like it or not, this is the kind of behavior that makes my kid my kid.  This is the kind of thing he’s willing to do for kicks and the laughter of his friends.  I hear from parents regularly that kids like Will because he is crazy and funny.  He’s silly, and although it can be irritating, what’s wrong with being silly?  This is what makes him who he is – a love of the irreverent, a penchant for ridiculousness, a lack of inhibition.  If I spend so much time correcting this behavior, in doing so, I’m changing him.  Changing the things I love about him and the things his friends also love.  The things that make him who he is.  Was he hurting anyone by getting muddy?  No.  Was it as ridiculous as I thought it was?  Not really.  Socks can be washed.  Blisters from wet socks can be healed.  Being embarrassed in front of your friends as your mother stomps around in the mud collecting your shoes…that can’t be fixed.

The truth is, we have so much going on right now that I feel pulled in a million directions, like I’m treading water, constantly.  I am not a control freak, but I don’t like feeling out of control either.  And right now, I have no idea whether I’m coming or going and have been feeling the need for some control.

I thought I could control dirty socks.

But I can’t.  And I shouldn’t want to.  Are dry socks going to make me feel better?  Maybe.  It's the I-am-so-mature girl in me.  The reality is, I have three kids.  Life is never going to be organized and I will always struggle with the out-of-control-ness of it all.  In trying to gain control and make myself feel better, I’m stressing everyone out.  And more than control, I want laughter, and chatter, and talking and snuggling.  Happiness.  But not at the expense of letting my kids be themselves.  Maturity will come.  Eventually.  Ok, hopefully.  And to some of my children earlier than others.  But I can't control when it happens.

And there it is.  My exasperation epiphany.

Besides, after being surrounded by boys of all ages this weekend, literally hundreds of ‘em, I see that the best thing I can do for myself is to go with the flow.  Because it’s not something he’ll ever outgrow.  Not completely.  Boys only grow up so much.  And in the end, isn’t that why we girls like them in the first place?

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