I’m not altogether sure I was cut out to be a parent.
Well, it’s too late now! And besides, you’re doing a great job.
That was part of a conversation the Wife and I had recently. I’m not breaking any news when I say that being a parent is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, with marriage being a close second.
Every-day-parenting is filled with it’s up and downs; highs and lows, and some days if definitely can feel like this little person who you’re trying so hard to raise and protect, and nurture, is doing everything possible to work against you. Yet, we parents continue on.
Sure, I give my kid a lot of shit on social media (and trust me, it’s well earned), and even here on the blog every once in a while, but for as much as I joke and talk about how much he annoys me, I have no issue pulling back the curtain and admitting that other than my wife, my son is the single most important person in my life, and I would do anything to protect him. That’s why something that happen earlier this week made me feel like I failed at that, and that I need to apologize.
Let me start this off by saying, I recognize kids are jerks. They’re jerks to their parents, and they’re certainly jerks to each other. In a weird way, that’s their job; to be assholes. That’s where we parents come in. When the jerk-behavior isn’t being directed at us (albeit the minority of the time), we’re supposed to be there to teach them how they should treat others, and communicate their feelings. But does that mean we have to stop them from not liking other people, or saying as much?
No, of course not, and as much as I love my kid, I know not everyone; certainly not ever other kid, is going to feel the same way about him that I do. And that’s what we faced earlier this week.
Ferris and I arrived at pre-school this past Tuesday, like any other day. Except this day was special for him; he was able to wear his brand new shoes that light up when he stomped his feet. I’m not going to go into how many times he stomped his feet that morning, because that would be a post in itself.
As we crossed the parking lot to school another one of Ferris’ classmates arrived, so of course he had to tell/show him his shoes. Along with the other boy was his mother, and older brother, who last year also attended the pre-school. As Ferris excitedly showed the boy his shoes the two boy gabbed only the way 4yos can about such trivial thing. I was lost in their adolescent excitement, but it didn’t last long.
As I was enjoying the moment I was abruptly pulled back to reality by hearing the older brother say to his mom, “That boy, Ferris is not a nice person. He’s mean to kids. I don’t like him.” I tried to brush it off, even when the boy repeated it to his mother. As I said, I get it, kids are kids. But the boy didn’t stop there, he continued the whole walk into school repeating some variation or another of his statement to his mother, with little to no effort on her part to try and discourage him from saying things like that.
I try very hard not to judge other parents. We have it hard enough, and no parent truly understands another parent’s struggle, because each kid is unique in how they act. Like tiny little snowflakes of terror. But I had had enough. As I expressed to my Wife when I told her what happened, even with the mean shit that kid was saying, I wasn’t mad at him. I was mad at the mom for showing no effort in stopping her son. Hell, for all I know, this isn’t the first time this conversation has happened, and maybe the mom agrees. But what I do know is that I was now pushed past my limit of acceptance of someone insulting my son.
I finally turned and looked at them both and said…nothing. I uttered not a word to either the older boy, or his mother; however, I fairly certain the look on my face probably said a thousand words, and she read every single one of them. I simply patted my son on the back, who was (thankfully) still lost in his excitement with the other boy, that he was oblivious to everything just said about him, and directed him to his classroom.
My son went about his day none the wiser to what happened that morning, and for that I am thankful. Me on the other hand? Well, I felt, and continue to feel like a huge failure. I vowed a long time ago I would never let anyone hurt my children the way I was hurt as child; not by physical or verbal abuse. I feel like I failed him that day. And before you say that it’s ok, because he didn’t hear what the other kid said; to me, that doesn’t matter, because I heard it, and I did nothing.
Then again, there is another side to all this. Maybe I did do something. Maybe I chose to break the cycle of anger that has plagued me from my youth. Maybe I chose to be the bigger person. Maybe I taught my son a valuable lesson in dealing with those who choose to insult you (even if he doesn’t know it). Maybe I did the right thing.