Mostly the last few years have been grueling… trying to instill discipline, trying to teach my children good manners, good morals, instilling in them a sense of integrity, a sense of choosing right over wrong, good over evil, and so on. That’s the real grueling part of parenting. You think it’s the endless laundry pile, the unwashed dishes in the sink, the tantrums, the sleepless nights, the crying and whining… but really the real challenge, the part that keeps you awake at night, the part that is guilt ridden and has you second guessing yourself at least 10 times a day… THAT part… is whether you are doing it right. Are you doing the best you can for your kids? Will they turn out to be decent human beings? Have you done enough to make sure they will integrate into society and be law abiding citizens who have a relatively normal existence? This is the part that actually freaks every parent out. You spend years teaching them to say yes please, no thank you, open doors for girls, ask the other person how they are, don’t cause scenes in public, don’t steal, lie, cheat, hit other kids..blah blah blah.. and STILL I hear myself asking at least 3 times a day “WHAT DO YOU SAY???” when someone gives them something and they don’t respond with an appropriate “thank you very much.” And you wonder if this kid is ever going to get it right.
So when you catch a glimpse of that character you have been trying to build for years, that character you have helped nurture and grow in as best a way as you know how… it makes you breathe a sigh of relief. It makes you realise that you can’t be that sucky of a parent after all, that you are doing OK. What a relief.
These last few weeks, I’ve noticed that my littlest man is maturing. The way he lets others go first, the way he shares, the way he lets you have your say and only comments once you have finished talking (even if you ramble on forever, like our Hannah does). The way he understands that crying and losing your mind over something silly is not the answer… oh he pouts and gets upset and I need to reason with him, but he doesn’t tantrum anymore. He knows the difference between right and wrong… even though he doesn’t always choose right! But I love that he can understand why there are rules in place, why we need to be disciplined if we disobey the rules and how it’s always better to just listen to your mother. Yes, you do.
He would give you something if it made you happy, even if he didn’t have an extra one to give. Last week we went to the Disney on Ice show and he willingly gave his juice to Sam because Sam didn’t have any at the time. My last-year-Liam would NEVER have done that! And in turn, my Hannah shared her juice with her brother. This filled my heart with pride. It did. He understands that there are things that I have no control over and he shows grace… I promise them every evening that we’ll ride bikes when we get home. But some days I’m late from work or the traffic is crazy and there just isn’t time. Whereas Hannah will usually cry and be somewhat mad at me because I control the traffic and the setting of the sun and how many hours in a day (go figure), Liam will say something like “it’s ok, we can do that tomorrow, why don’t we find something to do inside while you cook.” Like he wants me to feel better for not being able to make THEM happy, I just love him for this. He is still as mischievous as ever, and I swear this boy’s mouth is going to get him into many a tricky situation, but he is also such a softie. And if you hurt his feelings, he WILL cry. But this is crying I identify with, crying because your heart is sore, I get that, I do it quite a bit myself… not crying because your mother told you that you can’t wear your swimming costume to school because it’s 2 degrees outside (yes, been there, done that).
Anyway, my point is that Liam is growing into a really cool kid. A lot of this comes with age and maturity of course, but a lot of it comes from just being a good apple. And for me, this is the most important thing. You don’t have to be the smartest, cutest, coolest, funniest human being , but you do need to be a good apple: good at the core of who you are.