When I was pregnant with J, I remember visualizing calmly working in the kitchen while my baby slept peacefully and contentedly in the nearby baby swing; classical music was playing quietly in the background and all was serene.
Reality, J never went into that d*&% swing more than twice without hollering his head off, he always wanted to be held, facing out to confront the world and bellowed his protest the minute we wearily set him down. Little has changed.
Nobody would describe C2 or I as being placid or hard to ruffle. We are both loud, opinionated, quick to get a rise from, love to debate, bicker (it's our thing) and get the final word. Consquently, life has always been colourful, interesting, and entertaining for us. So why should I be surprised that our child is the same. With him, everything is a debate, a challenge, an often-times sarcastic argument, a reason why it shouldn't be done our way but his way. Boundaries are continually tested for weak spots and impulse often rules. Sweet as a Tim Horton's maple donut as long as things are going his way but prepare for a showdown at the OK corral if they're not. It's exhausting. But as my darling sister-in-law has reminded me on more than one occasion, two goats don't make a sheep
After another showdown this evening...in fairness at 9:00pm after he refused to eat pasta with sauteed kale (can I entirely blame him?), ripped a napkin in protest, and flung a curse from his wand at me (really a chopstick but that's not the point), C2 and I questioned what we were doing wrong. Are we too lenient, are we not lenient enough, do we coddle him too much, do we give in too easily, do we escalate arguments rather than defuse them because we are just as stubborn as he?
I don't know the answer, but I know it's not always easy being J's parent. But is parenting ever easy? This week, I had a friend dub her two seemingly angelic boys whom I have never seen do wrong "Attitude" and "Feral". I have witnessed other kids disrespecting the sensei at judo or teachers at school; J has never done that. He has a healthy respect for all authority but us, and, thankfully, a clear command of the right side of wrong. OK, so maybe it's not just J, maybe it's parenting in a world where we compete for the attention of our children with the Cartoon Network, Wii, DS, on-line games, and other electronic stimuli. A world where role models are not always positive, influences are many, and where the line between child and adult has become blurred.
I don't have the answers, and I don't know if any parent has it all figured out, but once the dust has settled, I am reminded that my little goat makes me laugh, charms me, fascinates me, amazes me, and utterly slays me with the depth of love, pride, joy, and gratitude he makes me feel....when he's not making me want to rip my head off.