OMG, I did something right! And the best part is it felt like a failure at the time. Accidental Correctness is the New Black.
Parenthood is a caper. Most of the time you’re reacting. He’s running with scissors! He’s got his shirt on inside out. He needs medication for his ADD. I wasn’t quick to jump into Ritalin. I talked to his teachers, his specialist, other mothers, I Googled, and when I was sure, I jumped.
Still, occasionally you’ve gotta wait and listen. Waiting seems contrary to parenting. Parenting is an action word and waiting is doing nothing. And listening? Parents love the sounds of their own voices. And over the sounds of our own voices whatever will we hear?
My eldest, Big H, he’s fourteen and a half, wants to be an Air Force pilot. He’s into flight, he’s into the military, he likes a uniform and a war movie. He has a romantic view. But Big H’s Maths is not great. He does better with words. I tried to help.
‘Honey,’ I said. ‘If you want to be a pilot you’ve got to be better at Maths. We need to get you a tutor.’
‘No,’ he said.
No way. Not happening.
He’s easy-going most of the time. He’s sensitive, practical, and funny but he can be stubborn. I knew if I provided a tutor he’d sit there at the table and do nothing because I can put a pen in his hand but I can’t force him to write.
Explaining is boring for kids. Parents are boring. I need to be able to communicate with my sons without threats and consequences hanging over us. I took a step back – it wasn’t easy – and I waited.
Two weeks ago Big H was on the internet. He said, ‘You need a C average in Maths in Year Nine if you want to join the Australian Defence Force Academy.’ I shut up and listened. Part of me rejoiced that he was finding out this stuff on his own (the other part of me saw that she only had three years left with him at home and that will be another blog post).
Last week Big H told me he wants a tutor for Maths. I played it cool. I turned my indicator on, made a head check and changed lanes. He takes up a lot more of the front seat than he used to.
I wanted to say, told ya.
I wanted to say, if you had have let me help you in the first place.
‘Great idea, I’ll make some enquiries,’ I said.
Big H is a smart kid. He won’t get bogged down by yesterday. He’s taking steps, later than I would have planned, but who cares, he’s not me. I’m learning my sons are not me.
In parenting you don’t get to feel like you did the right thing very often. Normally you get to the end of the day, review what happened from the vantage point of your pillow, and think, boy, I could have done that better.
Today is good, tomorrow could be another fire to be put out. I’ll enjoy today and have my gear ready for tomorrow. Sometimes you have to let our kids come to these things ourselves. It’s not our job to always push, and push, and push. Sometimes you’ve got to do the wait and listen.