Am I Too Childish to Be a Good Parent?
Remember what it was like when you were a kid and you and your little brother would sneak into the kitchen to eat chocolate-chip cookies
right before dinner? And how the two of you would squabble over the Saturday afternoon family activity; you always wanted to go to the outdoor concerts at the museum and he wanted to stay in the house and watch Star Trek.
Can you remember how you'd giggle for hours with your older sister in your room at night when it was way past bedtime?
Same with me! It's just like that. Except, er ... not with siblings. It's my son and me.
I don't know when it happened, but sometime between toddlerhood
and his current age of 6, we went from being mother and son to brother and sister. We argue over which games to play and where to go. We read together late at night, hours past his bedtime. We both want the last cinnamon roll, the red-not-white gumball, the bigger bowl of popcorn. We even argue in the car over who gets to sit next to the cool older man (my boyfriend). Just yesterday afternoon I heard myself in a serious round of "did not/did to" with him over whether or not I called his Dragon Master Knight Yu-Gi-Oh card stupid. (I did not! I said "stupendous." And while it may have been sarcastic, nevertheless, I did not say STUPID!)
The thing is, it's really fun. I like teasing him and squabbling with him and wrestling and ro-sham-bo'ing to make decisions. I like the adventure of sneaking into that second movie at the theater, even though it's already 9 PM and he should be snuggled in bed.
But sometimes I wonder if I'm really screwing something up. He's my son. I'm supposed to act like a mother. I know enough to understand that kids need firm boundaries and discipline
. I know how important consistency is. I realize he needs people to push up against, not roll around with on the floor. It's just that I have such a hard time doing it. When I say no, I wish I could mean no. But then he starts wheeling and dealing with me and it all becomes a game in which he usually gets me to say "Oh, OK." Because, you know, he does that cute-little-brother face and offers to watch a sappy girlie movie with me.
What I'm most afraid of is that he'll be disrespectful to other adults. I'm worried he'll grow up to be too cocky, a jokester, someone who doesn't know how to thoughtfully listen to another's opinion. I'm afraid he'll think all rules can be broken, without any repercussions.
I wonder if I need to grow up so he can grow up with more maturity. Do I need to find a way to be firmer, more of a disciplinarian? What is it that enables parents to keep that stern "I'm in charge" thing going?