My son is 6. I like it because he can tell me when things are wrong with him or what he wants to eat or about his favorite Avengers. I don’t like it because he can also tell fibs and ignore me and also sometimes act like a giant dick. And it’s times like those when I think, “I’m really bad at this. Like…BAD.” I’m not, say, Dina Lohan bad. But I know that he’ll be in therapy one day talking about how that one morning before school, Mom lost her shit and threw his bookbag across the room. Or dropped the f-bomb 34 times in a tirade about him not listening. Or. Or. Or.
I try, with all of my might, to hold my shit together. I do. There was a reason (several, actually) that having kids was not something I’d planned on pursuing. The big one is that I have no patience. None. Not one iota. My parents and I have very different memories of what my childhood was like, and while it was far from terrible, or even a little bit shitty, I can guarantee you that my temper and propensity toward yelling was not something I picked up from watching Full House.
When I was growing up, I was TERRIFIED of authority. I hated getting in trouble, either at home or at school. My smart mouth definitely got me more hours in my room than I’d care to admit, but MY son? Is outwardly defiant. Often. And with great bravado. And it is exhausting. And I am not patient. No matter what I do, how hard I try to hold it in. I take deep breaths, I put him to bed early, I grit my teeth and whisper yell. But inevitably (and less often, seemingly, although I probably just jinxed it), we wind up like this morning. My screaming Jersey accent, his crying. Me trying to explain through yelling (because that totally works, right?) WHY I am yelling (so I don’t beat him and make him go live in the shed with the lawnmower and spider crickets).
My son is smart. And funny. And loving. And a good dancer. And loves space and comics and dinosaurs and the human body. And my son is also 6. So I have to think that maybe I’m not cut out for this gig because that’s the thing I constantly forget. Of course he’s going to tell me everything is all my fault. Of course he’s going to do everything right in the morning except brush his teeth. Of course he’s going to argue with me on every single point every day for a week. Of course he’s going to spray a bottle of sunscreen all over his room and fake a stomachache and eat all the cookies for breakfast “on accident” and get a stomachache for real and so on and so on.
I know that this is parenting. That this is what the job entails. I knew that from the start. I just wish I were better at handling it all. Because even if I’m not cut out for this gig, I can’t quit.