Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Automated Car Wash

I feel like I need to be very careful as I write this so that sometime in the future, no one's feelings are hurt if they were to go back and read this.

With that being said, I need to admit, I do not understand the way my son's brain works. His personality is very different than mine, and therefore his strengths and weaknesses are very different than mine are and were at his age.

When I was a child, I was very CONSCIENTIOUS. While my mom and dad can attest, at times I was lazy, often self-centered, and not necessarily the best at being helpful around the house. But, when it came to impressing adults of authority, it meant everything to me to demonstrate that I was responsible, capable, and basically worthy of any praise to be given. I kept things very neat (in the classroom), was very organized, and thought ahead when it came to preparing for most anything.

That is pretty much the opposite of my son. And, I've got admit, it's just killing me. I feel like we need to officially need to change his name to "Oh Brayden" as that is what you pretty much say all the time when you watch him or hear about "the latest" of what he's done or not done.

Today was a classic example. He just said it was one of his best days ever. He participated in the "Gilham Triathalon" in which 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders are able to ride their bikes to the pool nearby, swim two laps, and then return to the school to run around the track. As a result of his participation and some other year-end activities (working on a rocket that his class will be launching on Friday) - he barely spent any time in the classroom. However, upon talking to him, I was acutely aware of how he forgot his backpack on the triathalon (in which I had to nag him constantly to pack this morning), had to use a kickboard during the swimming (because even though he won't sink, his form is so bad it looks very concerning to an onlooker), lost a contact along the way (because his goggles were in the backpack) and lost his bike lock and therefore didn't lock up his very valuable bike. When I asked him where he was in the group picture, he said he didn't know they were taking a picture. When I asked him which rocket was his, he showed me the broken one and said he hoped the teacher would be able to fix it.....

And thus describes a typical Brayden day. Now, on the flip side, this boy can make almost anyone smile, if not fully laugh (even when they shouldn't be laughing). He can look at a day that I see as full of "failures" and call it one of his best days ever. I love that kid so much, it hurts - and yet, right now, feel so incapable of being the right kind of mom to him.

I was thinking about this last week and came up with the analogy that ties in the title of this post. I think with parenting, I had always hoped that you steer them in the right direction, set them in their tracks - and then watch the progress. Much the same way as you would get a car into an automated car wash. Sure it takes some careful steering to get it in the tracks, but once you there, you put the car into neutral and coast. With Brayden, once we get into the tracks, it's like he's grabbed the steering wheel and is wrenching right and left while also messing with the pedals. We're really battling to stay in the tracks at all. Which is probably what realistic parenting is really more like, but I guess, not what I expected. And so,- I remind, yell, pull my hair out, occasionally enable, nag, worry, instruct, complain, and generally lose my sanity on a daily basis trying to help this wondrous little boy become, eventually, a contributing member of society - and all-around great guy. It'll happen, I'm sure of it, but man, that track that we're in looks oh-so-long......


Stephietoo said...

Oh Stephie, I can certainly see why you are so 'frustrated'. You are a very organized person; more-so than most people, and to have your son be so opposite from you...... You are in luck though because I do understand how your son's brain works.

If the Triathlon were to have happened to you, you would have been devastated that you had to use a kick board, and you would have felt as though you had let your parents down by forgetting your backpack and bike lock, as well as losing a contact. And don't get me started on missing your picture and smashing your rocket.... You would have been in tears!

(Please don't take offense to what I am about to type. I have no kids of my own, so I have no leg to stand on. However, I have known your kids for their whole lives. Please take my 'suggestions' with a grain of salt and feel free to stick your tongue out at me and tell me to go away, if you'd like. :o)

Brayden, on the other hand, is happy just being happy. As long as he is having a good time and having fun, he is happy. It doesn't matter that he is using a kick board, or that he forgot his goggles, or that he lost his contact; he had a fun day and that is all that matters to him. Sometimes, if it won't hurt him physically, you just need to let him be 'happy' and not worry about the other things. (The bike lock thing is another story, he needs to know that he MUST remember his lock to lock his bike up so it won't get stolen; but don't dwell on it because his bike DIDN'T get stolen, and he was SOOOOO HAPPY.....

I am sorry you are having such a hard time with all of this. I would like to tell you that it will get better, but knowing your son, it may not get any better. He may just be a happy, go lucky kid the rest of his life.

We will have to schedule some time this summer where I take Brayden to either Harlow or ESTC and give him some swimming lessons. He is the type of kid who needs the one on one attention, but also needs to be there without any of his friends running around waiting for him to come play with them. I may even be able to get him a couple of passes and take him to Oakway on a Sunday when they have family swim and work with him there.

I love you, and I love your family so very much! Stephie

Anonymous said...


I related to Stephietoo's advice because I am the one crying and stressing out that she described - just like you! And as a parent I think I would totally feel like you. But I also agree with her advice.

The other day I watched just a few minutes of "Supernanny" and there was a mom who told her daughter to stop jumping on the bed, made her get off and sit on the floor but allowed the friends to sit on the bed, then stood at the doorway watching to be sure she obeyed. I didn't see anything wrong with that but Supernanny did. "Manage the situation, not the child," she scolded. I have been repeating that to myself like a mantra because I am so much a "manage the child's behavior, attitude, personality, and mood" type of person.

We are both so fortunate to have a loving God on our sides, who grows us while we grow our kids! I wish I could loosen up like Brayden and not create standards that make only a small percentage of my days "best ever." He will hopefully not be plagued by all the stress related maladies we have, but I'm sure he's caused a few for you....

The title of your previous post seems apropos to the feelings we all have dealing with kids we just have a hard time relating to. Great analogy with the car wash, by the way...A+ on that one! ;)

StephieAnne said...

Thanks to both of you. No, I'm not taking offense to either of your comments - it's great to hear pluses about my son.

However, I need to point out that I married his "adult clone" so obviously there's a LOT about Brayden that I adore, absolutely adore. Hence the great paradox with him. John and I were also talking about what we could be dealing with in regards to negative behavior. While he gets upset at times, it's rarely directed in anger at us, he never talks back, he pretty much only gets mad at his sister - so many things that I feared I'd face with a boy his age aren't realities with him. Praise God.

John was actually as distraught as I was yesterday which tells you a lot about our need to see him think about more than just himself. Ultimately, it's that priority of FUN over everything else that turns into self-centeredness and lack of responsibility we're worried about. We need him to understand there's a time for all things. It turned into an hour discussion with him - a little tears from him, but good. As John and I talked - if we need to do this every day, he's worth it.

For the record, the boy lost his binder today - somewhere in the car - looked for two minutes and then came in ready to play (he gave up). I looked at him like, "you've got to be kidding" - you don't just give up - find a solution. Then Mikayla arrived on the scene, found it immediately, and at least she scored some points in his book.

He then came in telling me someone took his poem out of his notebook (that's due tomorrow). Yep, I'm sure someone just couldn't live without stealing that.... I'm sure it's NOT on the floor or crushed in his desk.... So, I smiled as at least this time, HE did the calling to his friends (for the 5th! time this year) to get the poem and write it out.

It's a daily battle with that little guy. For sure, the end of the "long spells of school" (prior to vacations) are the hardest with him - and summer breaks and vacation are where he shines. I'm looking forward to some Brayden sunshine for sure.....

(And, Stephie - the private sessions at Oakway sound ideal - we'll pay for any passes necessary - but to just have it be him and you would be so awesome.....)

Anonymous said...

When I heard how good Mikayla was at finding things I wanted to ask if I could hire her to follow Tyler around every day. We started off the school year with 2 nice jackets and 3 nice sweatshirts. We're down to 1 sweatshirt which is somewhere, dirty, so I am gritting my teeth while he goes to school in the morning with short sleeves (the teachers probably think I'm soooo irresponsible). It drives me NUTS how he loses things!! And even more nuts that he doesn't really care when he does!!

StephieAnne said...

oh, amen - Heather. The difference between my children is very huge. Both have distinct strengths and differences. Brayden needs to end up marrying someone just like Mikayla to balance him out. (Funny, just what John and I did!)

Colie said...

The thing I can relate to Steph, is trying to relate to a son who is so different from yourself. I know, Caleb is only three, but we are so different. I want him to know I love him but sometimes it's hard to figure out how to do that. I'm praying when he is older and his personality is more developed that I will have wisdom and understanding when I don't relate. AND that he will know that even though we are so different, I love him.

It's a challenge! Keep it up and thanks for sharing!