I live without fear because I figured out a long time ago that what someone else thinks can only affect me if I let it. It seems so simple yet it is NOT. It took me years to shed the desire to gain the approval of others so when I see my kid trying to bring himself up by putting other people down, it makes me temporarily insane.
I work very hard trying NOT to lecture him about what I know he will eventually understand because he has to go through this process himself. It's totally unnatural for me to shut my pie hole so I have to find a way to prevent conversation from becoming a lecture.
I define a lecture quite simply as the verbal vomit of a narcissist. I know enough to know that my kid doesn't and quite frankly shouldn't give a rat's balls about what I was doing at his age or what I think about what he's up to right now. He's busy being himself and that's a lot of work. As Dr. Seuss said, "Today you are you that is truer than true. There's no one alive that is youer than you." Today my kid was an ass.
My inability to tolerate much small talk and/or bullshit makes it very difficult to watch others squirm as the result of their inability to identify its presence in their own lives. My 11 year old son must walk through this fire and feel the burn. He won't learn any other way. Being me means just that, I am me. Me is not him and he is not me so where does that leave us? From what I can see, the space between me and my firstborn, snuggle-buddy, doppelgänger is increasing and I am feeling the pain. It's two fold.
First of all it hurts to shut up. It gives me physical pain. This morning when I had to give him a brief verbal smack down I had to use as few words as possible to express my feelings about something I am totally passionate about which is INTEGRITY. I don't usually think about the integrity of most grade school kids but it seems that are meeting with the menacing, soul sucking dark side much earlier these days.
Second, it hurts to let go. He is slowly figuring out who he is and his jerk face behavior doesn't mean he's going to be a serial killer. Perspective is a tricky thing in the midst of the fear and frustration. As a parent neither of these things is in short supply when trying to raise a decent human being.
It was quick and dirty and it went like this, "I'm disappointed in your behavior. It's not cool or interesting to talk about people behind their backs. If you are doing this it's because the person you are talking about is AHEAD of you. I hope you figure it out before you get too far behind. There is a lot of space between the bottom and the top, my friend. "
That was it. There was nothing else to say. I'm mad. Disgusted, disappointed and annoyed but this too shall pass. He's a kid and he's going to think and act that way until he's not and until that time I shall have to be content with being me and accepting that me is not him as I try not to let the space between us become too wide.
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