Friday, September 27, 2013 (Alex 7, Ana 3)

Dear Alex,

I completely lost it with you yesterday.  It had been brewing since last weekend when Dad was traveling and I had to hustle you to soccer, a birthday party, and a fundraiser.  These were all activities you enjoy and wanted to attend but I had to coax, prod or drag you just to get you out the door.  It has always been this way—wherever you are is where you want to be and whatever you are doing is what you want to do.  You become easily engrossed in activities—reading, playing with Legos, shooting hoops—and beg for more time or just flatly ignore our requests for you to stop and get ready to go.  It usually devolves into Dad or I yelling to get your attention and threats that we will leave you behind which are vain since most of our activities these days center around your participation.

So yesterday, after asking you a hundred times to come downstairs and get your shoes on so we could head out for a school fundraiser at Chick-fil-A, I started yelling.  “Get! Your! Shoes! On!  NOOOWWW!”

You came to the door covering your ears and telling me to stop.

“I’m angry,” I told you.  “Because you’re not listening!”

I stepped into the bathroom to grab something and overheard you say to Ana, “Don’t you hate Mom when .  . .”

“What was that, Alex?” I asked through the door.

“Nothing.  I just said, ‘Don’t you want to get a shake?’”

“That’s not what you said.”

“Yes, it is,” you insisted.

Then Ana piped in,“He said, ‘Don’t you hate Mom’ . . .”

“No, no, no, Ana,” you said covering her mouth as I came out of the bathroom.

This made me incredibly sad but it came out as anger.  When we were in the car, I told you that I knew you said you hated me and that if you hated me then you better stop asking me for play dates and rides to birthday parties.  It was AWFUL.

I calmed down a little as we drove and attempted to undo the damage.  “I understand you hate it when I yell at you, but I hope you don’t hate me.”

You didn’t respond.

“I hate it when you don’t listen,” I continued.  “How do you think we can fix this?  So you listen more and I don’t yell as much?”

You were quiet for a few moments.  “Maybe you could squirt me with a water gun.  That would be better than yelling.”

Great.  This is what Aunt Liz does to keep her cats from jumping on the counter.  But you’re not a pet.  You’re a little boy who just has a hard time listening and following directions.

Sometimes I think you should be able to do better and get even more frustrated with you when I see other kids your age or younger who seem more capable.  But comparing is always a bad idea.  And more than you need to change, I do.  And that’s the real frustration.  I would have thought that by now I would do better.  I would expect to have more patience knowing that you’ve always struggled with moving from one thing to the next.  And then there are all those examples of parents who are more adept, who appear to have unlimited supplies of calm.  But as I said before comparisons don’t help and I realize we both need some grace in this area.

You seem to have already forgiven me and moved on.  So I vow to start again glad to have another chance to get it right even though I feel certain I’ve used them all up.  I guess that’s the whole point of grace and I’ve never needed it so much in my life than as a parent.


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