SOMWaD: It's NOT His Problem; It's Mine.

My son is growing at a rapid pace.  It's not just that he's now in middle school (and too young for that in my opinion, but that's a whole other story), but he's having a sudden growth spurt.  He's almost as tall as I am (I admit I'm short).  I don't think from 2nd-4th grade he lost more than one tooth.  This past summer/fall/winter, he's lost more than I can remember (not that it says much).  Just in 2016 alone he's already lost two teeth.

But the biggest indicator of his growth is his attitude.  He's definitely got that pre-teen/tween "thing" going a lot of the time.  (Too much of the time, if you ask me.) Although he has always been moody, he is now surly and often snappish.  I can see frustration and anger build when things aren't going his way.  Unfortunately, at this stage in his life, quite often things AREN'T going his way.  As a middle school student he has more homework, more classes and more changes going on in his life.  He needs and gets extra help in the form of a weekly tutor.  He has earlier mornings to get to music classes 3 or 4 days a week.  All of this means less "me" time for him.  Can I blame him for his frustration?  How can I answer him when he says "everything is horrible" when it probably seems that way to him?

This morning as we were getting ready to leave the house, he snapped at me when he couldn't find one of his gloves.  I didn't like his tone; I didn't like his attitude.  I started to snap back.  I had my own issues; my own frustrations.  Then I realized what I was doing.  And for a split second I stepped back.  I tried to calm myself.  I realized that my son's behavior is really a reflection of my behavior.

My husband has said it to me before.  I didn't want to hear it.  Who does?  I do snap more frequently than I care to admit.  I'm juggling more balls than even the most talented juggler could handle.  I am frequently frustrated and annoyed.  And since the beginning of Lent (see:  http://bfthsboringblog.blogspot.com/2016/02/cursing-ash-wednesday.html), I have come to realize just how frequently I swear (often under my breath).  In that split second this morning, I realized that a good part of my son's not so good behavior is a reflection of me; of how I react and how I speak.
I probably knew it all along, but it was that crystal clear moment for me this morning that really hit me hard.

So now what do I do about it?  How do I stop myself from snapping?  How do I stop myself from reacting to the stresses and frustrations that come with my daily life?

This is especially apparent in the mornings.  No matter what time I get up, and I got up a little after 4 this morning, I always seem to be running in a million different directions.  There are so many little things that seem to catch/need my attention, despite my best efforts to plan ahead.  (I don't wait until the morning to select that day's outfit and I try to pack lunches and snacks ahead of time, although refrigerated items need to be part of the morning's plan.) 

I realize that I need to better control my own reactions.  Being aware is part of the solution.  I'm not sure what the whole solution is, or if I can even achieve it.  After all, my son's reactions to stress and frustration have only been around for a few years.  I've had nearly a half century to pick up these negative habits and weaning myself off of them is not something that will happen overnight.

But it has become clear to me that this is MY problem and something I need to address with myself.  If I don't it WILL be his problem.  And it's a problem I don't want him to have.  (What parent does?) While I cannot change how he acts and reacts, I can show him a better way.  And perhaps he will reflect a "better" me just as he has reflected the "snappish" one.  That would be a big win for both of us.


(As always, I'm open to suggestions here.  Feel free to comment or even email me.  I promise to carefully consider suggestions, comments and gentle criticisms.  And I'll try NOT to snap.)

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