Friday, February 26, 2010

Where to begin?!

I worry a lot about what kind of father I am.

Alastair is a great child. Really, he is. He's easy-going, well-mannered, and very gentle. He apologizes for his wrongs, shares well, and tells me all the time how much he loves me.

So I feel bad when I reprimand him, but then I wonder if maybe the reprimanding is why he's so well-behaved. It's a catch-22: I want to be lax and non-restrictive with him, but that is exactly what I think leads to ill behavior. I distinctly recall some early interactions with my mother as being very negative, and I don't want him growing up afraid of me, but I also don't want him growing up with today's whacked-out sense of entitlement. Respect must be earned. Privileges may be revoked. These are truths of life, and treating a child like a prince or princess will not prepare them for the world.

On the other hand, I want my little boy to be my little prince forever. I shower him with love and hugs and affection. He's all I have, and the only reason I'm still even remotely sane after 11 months without Amanda. Hell, he's probably the only reason I didn't kill myself after she died.

So I hate myself whenever I'm short with him. TV shows and movies don't help, where they always show a father and son who've grown distant. I couldn't bear to be distant from him.

And yet he apologized to me the other day for "always making me angry." Oh how I died inside! Have I become what I fear most? Overbearing and unyielding? I try to pick my battles carefully, and I told him that he doesn't always make me angry--that I only get upset with him when he doesn't listen (just like his sitters, his grandparents, and everyone else in his life). And my being upset is nowhere near as vehement as it was a few months ago.

I've said before that this is going to be Alastair's year. I mean it. He's not gonna be little for much longer, and I don't want to miss a moment. We got a Wii recently, and now, in addition to our nightly monster truck racing and wrestling, we try to sneak in a game of Mario Kart or a bit of flying in Sports Resort. He loves it, and both games force me to relax and let him just be a crazy little kid.

And this morning he learned that what works in the games does not always work in the real world. In Mario Kart, it's just fine to slam into things. In the kitchen, on his Lightning McQueen ride-on, slamming into things hurts his crotch. So yay for learning!

Right now my poor little guy is suffering from a bit of a fever. Yesterday he had his 4-year checkup, and he had to get 4 shots, including his MMR, which made me the sickest I've ever been in my life. But he got great marks everywhere else, weighing in at 41lbs and measuring 41.125" tall. His vision is like mine: 20/30, and he's my sweet angel.

I love my boy.


Anonymous said...

Granted I only know you and your story from your blog, but you seem like a good parent to me. I'm sure you're not -always- angry at him, but a small child can exaggerate one instance of angriness into always being angry. On the flip side, they move on from it just as quickly.

Thanks for sharing your stories.

TK said...

I love my boy.

It shows. And he knows it.

lordhelmet said...

What TK said. Double.

BierceAmbrose said...

Dude, to even have concerns like these you are a great dad.

And in case you are wondering about the flood of well-wishes suddenly landing hereabouts, Jadine flashed the Pajiba-signal onto the interwebs. So, hang in there. You have more friends than you know.

What support I can give is yours - name it.

Anonymous said...

Ben kind to Little A. But be kind to yourself too. Single mothers get a lot of support for what they go through, but I don't think there is as much recognition for single fathers.

You are his only parent 100% of the time, which is hard. Without having a partner to discuss and work through things with, you have to do the best you can. You ARE going to screw up. And you ARE going to do things right, too.

What is important is that you are thinking about Little A and how to do the best job, and at the end of the day, he knows you love him. So make your mistakes, and correct them when you can, and keep on telling him and showing him you care. You both will be all right.

replica said...

If I may be firmly convinced on your behalf - discipline IS love, and being a good parent is all about not letting the important stuff slide while not letting a moment of being appreciative of your child slip away.

When you write you really express yourself with words full of action - like how you are seeking the answers from your child, not from other people or from ideas you hold up there in the head. That is quite simply the greatest approach - you'll know how you're doing because of how it feels right to you.

And don't worry - Alistair loves you so much that any little thing will be huge for him. It's totally normal for little guys to do that (question how well they are doing for you) least it has been for both my kids.

I figure that you need to take care of you too, so you can stay the foundation. I hope you're getting some very happy days in for yourself. It's a heavy load you are carrying and you're doing it really well.

amy =) said...

i agree with the first anon and replica. children crave boundaries and schedules, even if it doesn't always seem like it. i'm for one glad that you aren't letting your child be the ruler in your house like so many other parents these days. i'm sure it isn't easy, but as long as you let him know that you love him also, but that you expect certain behavior from him, things will turn out fine.

i don't know why i hadn't thought to share this blog with you before
he's a widower too, his wife died the day after giving birth to their daughter (who looks just like her mom)

blackbird said...

I'm an elementary teacher (and a mom of three) and I can say with certainty that not disciplining your child and being lax is harmful and (IMO) lazy parenting. It's harder to be tough.

I agree with the others who say that kids crave boundaries and rules (though human nature leads them to fight against that need) and I've seen the dismal results of the pampered princes and princesses once they hit school.

Little A will always be your prince, of course, just like my sweeties will always be the stars that shine in my sky. And there is NOTHING wrong with that. You love them like crazy, but also let them know the universe has order. It's all good. The things that you say about him - about the two of you - it's so obvious there is an abundance of love there. He's a lucky little boy to have you.