God has a funny sense of humor. I barely made it through childhood without tossing my brother, almost three years my junior, out a window. Now He, meaning God, has given me a son who grates on my nerves just the same. Don’t get me wrong: I love my five kids to the moon and back---even this one. And each child o’mine has a signature style for getting under my skin and a particular talent for eliciting rage from everyone else in the family, parents included. However this precious soul’s MO is identical to that of my brother, both boys having been fated with a classic case of middle-child syndrome.
Not only does this son walk duck-style with a lethargic gait as does my brother and requires death threats to complete a homework assignment. But most important, he appears to have the same eye-rolling effect on my eldest daughter as my brother did on me. Incidentally, this daughter is the one most like me. So when she confides that she wants to shove her fist straight into his mouth to temper his whiny little voice, I have to pinch myself. And repeat under my breath: I am the parent here and ought to dole out the good advice.
It’s not easy though. Many times, equally exasperated by his efforts to attain negative attention I feel like commiserating with a, “I know, right; he’s like soooooo annoying, isn’t he?”
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Then I think: haven’t I evolved since then? Can’t a mother’s love transcend her own child’s likeness to that of her own childhood nemesis? Look: even though my brother and I share a close and mature relationship now---he turned out to be a doctor! ---admittedly, I feel her pain. Undeniably one day they’ll be as close as can be. My son is a smart, good-hearted boy and endears himself to all those that know him. It’s just that he reserves the defiant behavior for the confines of his comfortable home.
Many of you may be offended by my candor. But please don’t judge. I’ve just got to work like hell to use my own trying childhood experiences to help my other children squash their collective fantasy of tossing him out a window.
Funny how cycles work. Witnessing this fascinating genetic phenomenon confirms that everything in life does come full circle. If we can recognize problems as disguised opportunities for self-growth, we get a second (and many times, third) chance to work out unresolved relationship kinks. Now it’s time I step it up a notch and use that child psychology degree to outsmart my kids and myself. And implement fresh strategies to help my son learn to control his feistiness and assist the others in dealing better with his irritating conduct.
But it’s not all bad news though. Since they’re all ruthlessly competing for attention, this son doesn’t remain too long in the limelight as the family pest. God or the universe makes sure that each one gets their moment of fame. Guess that’s the beauty of a big family. In our house, nobody can even get away with misbehaving for long.
As for me, I’ve recently begun to meditate.
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