Monday, 6 February 2012

Unhappy son-day

The up side of the day was when Max had finished eating his third bowl of cereal and asked for a dessert. He said no to both apples and applesauce but asked for cauliflower. I looked around the kitchen and followed his gaze to the plastic containers of pink cotton candy - leftovers from a take out meal.

But that's just 30 seconds out of the entire crappy day that my son shared with us. And it all left me feeling like I'm not doing a good job as a mother. I do lots for my kids : they learn English,  I read to them almost every night, I come into school to read, I do storytime, we go to concerts, we bake...But there's a fine line between doing things FOR them and doing things WITH them. And when I should be doing things WITH them, I'm usually not mentally present. Like many working (perfectionist) moms, I'm always thinking about what needs to be done next : the cleaning (have I mentioned the work going on in our house? So coming home every day is like discovering my living room coated in a light dusting of snow?), the cooking (hey, I like to cook and I want my kids to like good food which they do since favorite foods are snails, sushi and fresh parmesan cheese, not together).

A few months ago Suzanne seemed to be going through a tough period. Her stomach pains, which we initially thought were a gluten intolerance, are more likely due to stress. So we took time to talk to her, see if she's unhappy with school, etc. And we decided that maybe it was just a little problem with her brother who is omnipresent. He's one of those people who you know is in the room, even if he's not making a sound...but he also doesn't know how to not make a sound. When Suzanne speaks, he often cuts her off or repeats everything she says which turns her into a screming 5 year old mess.

So Max's recent sleeping issues (ie coming into our room at all hours of night and saying, "Mommy time to wake up" while turning on both the light and the radio) didn't seem like anything serious to me, maybe just a need to see us a little more or maybe just overexcited by all the new stuff he learns each day. But it seems to go deeper than that. Max is very proud and won't tell us when he's scared or sad. He just pretends like it's all ok and becomes obstinate. By the time he asked for cauliflower for dessert, he'd already been deprived of dessert for lunch, all of his stuffed animals and his pacifier and playing in the snow and hot chocolate. Why? Because we tried to put him down for a nap and he just kept getting up. Even Suzanne, who hates napping, was annoyed that he wouldn't let her rest.

So here I am wondering how to control him without breaking his spirit. And, I'm wondering if I (we) broke Suzanne spirit.  It's that old discussion on nature versus nurture. My children are who they are, but am I (we) not helping them become the best of themselves?

Parenting is so hard...

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