My Spirited Child

My son is a lot of something.  He's a lot of love, a lot of anger, a lot of not listening, a lot of laughing, a lot of learning, a lot of reading, a lot of crying, a lot of screaming, etc.  He's just a lot of who he is.

I was also a loud, in-your-face kid.  I love that hes so enthusiastic, but I'm so torn because I know that its not what society expects from him, I know it sometimes reflects poorly on me, and I think it will make socializing/school increasingly difficult for him in the future.  Some of these feelings are rooted in the fact that, as a child, I had a hard time socializing with peers and frequently felt rejected or misunderstood by teachers and other adults whose acceptance I craved deeply.

Today at preschool (play group) Ikaika was being...well, Ikaika.  He wasn't following directions without multiple prompts and/or threats, he was running around, he was interrupting storytime to yell that he also likes birds...  I know he gets on other people's nerves.  He gets on my nerves all the time!  I know other parents are sick of him carelessly running into and knocking over their kids, his teachers are sick of him running when he is supposed to walk and touching things that are kapu, I am sick of him ignoring everything I say and having to ignore my other child (who also displays some of these undesirable behaviors) so I can drag him away from something or deal with a tantrum. 

All the teachers are so nice and I know their job is stressful because I used to work at a preschool, too.  During singing time he was standing (when supposed to be sitting) touching the word poster (so no one could see it) and a staff member told him very directly, "stop, Ikaika."  After circle time, he went barrelling in for the end-of-the-day-hug (with no real regard for what she was doing or who was in his way) and she just brushed him off.  She finished putting whatever it was down on the table then got down and started hugging all the other, more patient children.  Ikaika was staring at her, dumbfounded.  He seemed really hurt and sulked away.

I guess its good to learn a lesson in being patient or considerate of people's space and I can't expect everyone to treat my little angel nicely (I don't even expect that from myself)...but after we got in the car I just wanted to cry.

I try hard to reign Ikaika in, but its a never ending battle.  I limit TV, provide structure, collaborate with my spouse, give warnings and outlets, etc.  But sometimes it feels like I'm trying to cram a square peg into a round hole for no other reason than to please others.

I've tried a few different strategies but nothing seems to improve his ability to perform appropriately at school and when I'm super working on it we spend more time in tears and fighting about it then actually enjoying or benefiting from playgroup.  If he honestly can't do it, should we just not go?  That seems so unfair! 

My son isn't a bad person.  But he is going to unintentionally alienate teachers and potential friends if he continues to be so...MUCH of himself.   Isn't that terrible for me to say?!  My gut tells me that I should be cheerleading him.  I should be protecting him from being self conscious. 

I feel guilty for putting others opinions in front of what I know about my own child.  I feel totally lost in defining where my job as a parent "ends".  Where does my obligation for teaching end and his obligation for learning and adapting begin? 

1 comment:

  1. Ahh, if I ever have a kid who is like me, I'll be in a similar situation. I don't know what the right answer is, obviously, but I do know that I a) am basically happy with who I am now and b) wish I had had an easier time of it as a kid.

    I don't think you are trying to cram a square peg into a round hole just to please others; I think you are trying to help him understand how other people perceive his behavior, and give him the power to modify his behavior if he chooses. Sure, teach him to love himself, but also, teach him to be considerate.