“One day I hope you have a child just like you,” my mother said in a frustrated huff. I secretly thought to myself “That would be awesome. I’m independent, strong-willed, confident, sensitive and usually right.” Instead I kept my thoughts quiet, rolled my teenage eyes and wished that I could call my best friend to vent…but I was grounded from the telephone. Fast forward to twenty years later. My mom got her wish.
I have a son who possesses the propensity and knowledge to exactly push my buttons. We go from in synch to at odds in the blink of an eye and I finally figured out why: he is just like me. I listen and watch and it’s blatantly clear. He is independent, strong-willed, confident, sensitive and (thinks he is) usually right. He’ll say things like:
● I want to be the leader! (That’s me.)
● You never let me do what I want! (Me again.)
● Da*n it -- I dropped my toy! (Oops, definitely me.)
He is me without the maturity, the poise, the life lessons or the experience. This little person embodies the pure, unadulterated, overdramatic, frustrated, no-holds-barred version of me, and -- while it can be magnificent -- it isn’t parenting for the weak.
Putting Myself In His Little Shoes
To happily maintain a relationship with my “personality twin,” I take myself back to how I felt as a child. For example:
● I thought that if I screamed and cried loudly enough, my parents would realize my pain/misery and change their minds.
● I got lost in my imagination and didn’t always want to stop for dinner, to clean up, or for bedtime.
● I always wanted my parents to be around me even if they seemed busy, tired (or burnt out, as I now understand).
● Sometimes I just needed (and still need) a good cry, a good listener and a good shoulder to lean on.
Instead of expecting my son to act as I would now, I put myself in his shoes and it’s paying off. When he has a difficult day, I try to remember how I may have felt and acted in that same situation as a child. I often tell him stories of my youth and we connect in a very special way. It’s not perfect, but I’m relating to him more and our relationship is blossoming.
One thing is clear -- he wants to be just like me when he grows up, and odds are, he will. And guess what? He’ll probably have a child just like us.