**Long post alert**
The past few months have been particularly hard for me, in terms of relationship with my son. He’s 9 going on 10, but I think in his mind he thinks he’s 16. I’m still trying to work out if this is just a boy thing, because I can’t remember my daughter being this hard, and she’s only just over a year older than him.
It seems like everything I’ve been teaching him about the right things to do, he stays far away from and embraces everything I’ve been shouting against. For example being respectful. He’s fine at school and I get loads of comments from teachers and friends about how well behaved and respectful he is, but if he’s upset he starts “smart” talking and can let a few swear and bad words fly. We don’t talk like this at home so I’m wondering where he picks this up from – school, activity clubs, his friends,TV, or do I react like this without realising I do?
Then there’s homework. He is more than capable and a reasonably bright child, but is just too relaxed and won’t make any extra effort. Whenever it’s homework time, he’ll drag his feet, spend ages looking for a pencil, complain, whine, do it half-heartedly just so he can get out of there to go play games or watch TV. Efforts from me to correct and walk him through corrections are met with more whining, “Oh, you’re gonna take ages!!”, and distracted listening. This absolutely does my head in.
Or is it doing chores, even something as simple as picking up after himself, reminded for the umpteenth time. Or loading the dishwasher? Cue, stomping feet, a hurriedly done job that I have to do over because cups haven’t been placed properly, or there’s water and bits of food all over the sink.
Some days I’m so tired of shouting, I look at myself and ask, “Is this my son?”. It’s then I think back to the days and occassions when he was an ever smiling, lovable toddler. Alas, I remember my Mum’s words, “You will not always like what I have to say, but it is my job to say it, and keep on saying it, so there you go”. Said speech is usually announced just before she launches into her sermon on whatever it is she wanted to say. We got to do what we got to do as parents, but some days it’s really hard especially when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, so what’s the use?
So, on this particular day, I get back from work. It’s been a long day. Dealing with back to back meetings, mulling over in my head things I’ve got to do sort out first thing when I get in to work the following morning to avert disaster. Also mourning a sad and terrible loss in the family. I just want to go away somewhere to sit quietly and reflect, but no, I’ve got to make dinner, start the homework battle, make some diffivult phone calls, excetera, excetera. At the door I’m met with a big hug from my son, who asks how my day has been, then proceeds to the kitchen. I put my bag down, take off my shoes and head to the kitchen.
My son’s in the kitchen and it looks like he’s fixing himself a snack. Before I can ask, “what are you doing?” he says, “No Mummy, go and sit down, you’re tired. I’m making you dinner”. I do a double take. These are words I have NEVER heard from him before. In fact my mind flashed back to Mother’s Day when I was so upset and disappointed that I morphed into Incredible Hulk. Following weeks of announcing to hubby and kids that all I wanted was to not have to cook that day, I didn’t get offered even a cup of tea from any of them and I ended up doing the cooking that day. Aaargh! Long story for another day.
Back to reality I look at this boy to try and work out if he’s serious and what’s the catch. I’m surprised there doesn’t seem to be one and he purposefully continues his work of slicing the bread, arranging the strawberries and grapes on his plate. These are all his favourite things, especially Agege bread, (otherwise known as “special bread” in my house), and he’s really preparing them just for me. I grill him over and over again, “did Daddy tell you to do this?”, to which he replies truthfully, “No”.
See me see trouble. Getting this boy to butter his bread sometimes is a chore because he can’t be bothered and wants to go back to watching TV. So I leave him to it and focus on heating up some food for them for dinner.
“Mummy, do you want juice or water?”, I hear him ask. I request for my favourite Vitamalt, to which he happily replies, “ok, I’ll put lots of ice cos’ I know you like it really cold”. At this point I’m so perplexed, and touched by his attention to detail and consideration of what I like that I could have just dropped on the floor and wept.
A minute or so later he announces very proudly, “It’s ready! Where should I put it? Mum come and sit down”. I finish up dishing their food and dutifully go to sit down and have my dinner. No joke, that was the best meal I’ve ever had. I could taste every drop of love that went into preparing that meal, and it was just the right amount for that evening as I hadn’t been particularly hungry. I was a very proud mum that day and grateful to God for using his small hands to love and care for me when I really needed it.
After that day has he gotten on my last nerves and are we still arguing about homework, making his bed and all that other stuff? Of course, and I have no doubt it will continue. However that day and his actions restored my faith in hope. Faith that my positive examples and words do have impact so I should keep it up, and hope that he will grow up to be a responsible and awesome gentleman in spite of his shakara right now.
……………………………….To be continued …………………………