I have been thinking about this for a couple of weeks. I have been trying to figure out how true my hunch has been. I’ve been combing my mind for data to support or deny the conclusion I have been slowly drawing. I have been questioning myself asking whether I am one of those parents that simply deny the truth. I have been reflecting upon my own behavior to determine if I am at fault. I have been searching for a way to own this in a way that softens the blow I have to face.
All of my efforts have been for naught and have firmly rooted me to one conclusion.
My children are “bad”.
I don’t know what it is really. I’ve wondered if is it because they might be spoiled? I’ve pondered if it is because I provide them with too many comforts? I thought maybe it might be the having a nanny/babysitter, cleaning lady, dog walker, etc. around them that they feel privileged or entitled. I’ve asked myself whether it is something in my own behavior that they’ve witnessed that led them to conclude disregard is ok. I’ve questioned whether they are getting enough unstructured time to run around and burn off steam that contributes to their resistance. Overall, I am not certain I’ve discovered the root cause of the problem. What I am certain of is this: Whenever my children are not in my presence, their behavior takes a nose dive!
What’s my evidence you say:
- The many conversations with teachers who advise me that my children will inform them of the things they are not going to do; and their ability to say it calmly with sure intent;
- The teacher who asked me if my child had ADD/ADHD because he won’t do any work…only for me to have him sit in front of her and complete the entire assignment in under 10 minutes…even with other distractions happening around him;
- The report from a teacher that advised that one of my children listens to what she instructs others not to do…only for him to test her by doing it himself;
- The gymnastics coach informed me that my child has natural talent but that was not coachable. According to the coach, my son doesn’t like to be corrected and that he simply refuses to follow instructions;
- The swimming instructor informed me that my children seem to think that they are in the pool to have a good time…and not to learn how to swim, float, etc. Thus, they failed their swimming test and have to take the course again;
- The nanny will give me instances of when my boys decide they don’t want to do their homework, pick up after themselves, etc. and she has to threaten them with telling me in order to get them to comply; and
- Even papa comes home, after taking the boys out and informs me of how poorly they behaved with his frustration and exasperation evident.
Initially, to these I would simply listen and question for this was so unlike the children I experience. I am a scientist and with all of these things happening when my children are away from my own eyes…I naturally considered it suspect.
In truth, I was guilty of secretly doubting the teacher’s class management skills, or questioning the qualification of the coach, asking the swimming instructor just what did he expect from a 6 and 7 year old when in the pool or quietly musing that Papa needed to be more assertive, etc. But now I see I was excusing away the evidence.
I was lulled by my own children. Like any parent, I protected them. I was not seeing the truth about own kids. In my defense, when I am with them, they know the routine and without prompting can go through it. I don’t have issues with getting my children to eat, pick up after themselves and/or behave properly when we are in a public place. I don’t fuss at my children a lot because most often they don’t give me a reason to. When I do have to get after them, they are quick to correct. I am always clear on the expectation and the consequence…and I have simply concluded that my boys do better with structure, discipline and the opportunity to think through and form conclusions.
Now however, I feel like I see them differently. I more clearly see them completely…good and bad attributes. And now when reports come to me about my children…for some reason, I am better able to see/accept the possibility that MY children really are not easy to manage when I am not present.
The veil has been lifted. I am no longer a fool.