I write a lot about my almost 2 year-old on Facebook, basically because he is hilarious. And also because sometimes he does things that are so nuts, writing about it seems to be a better option for me than yelling or crying. He is your typical toddler (according to other people who have had toddlers): He is independent, yet clingy at times; if he doesn’t get his way sometimes, he can go into tantrums, and hitting, and crying jags that make his face look like an explosion. But he is also really sweet. He gives the best hugs. He loves books as much as he loves his iPod. He soaks up new things like a sponge. He loves the drums and anything having to do with them. The kid is the bee’s knees. Again, like most humans, he has his pluses and minuses, because, well, he is human.
Recently, we had lunch at a dear friend’s house, and she was so gracious to my kid, who loved that she had made macaroni and cheese, and that she had windows that went to the floor so that he could look outside at the goings-on of her city street, and that she had a piano. There were a couple of times where things weren’t moving fast enough for him, and he pitched a mini-fit, but mostly, it was a delightful time. And as we were leaving, my friend said, “He is a sweet little boy.” And I said, “Today, he is.” And as the words left my mouth, I knew they were wrong.
Why, when people ask me how my son is doing, my first answer is “Crazy!”? Why does it seem that I am readier with the tantrum stories than the ones about what an amazing human being he is? I think I know: I don’t want people to hate to see me coming because they don’t want to hear me bragging. And I want to be honest about my struggles with him, because other people have been honest about THEIR parenting struggles, and it makes you see that these things are normal. Plus, some of the stories are downright funny when you back away from them. I see myself as being lighthearted. But what I don’t want, though, is for the struggles to overshadow the amazing. It’s like how people remember the bad experiences that they had at a restaurant (There was a hair in my food! It took them 30 minutes before they took my order! The soup tastes like soap!) and tell those stories more than the ones of the good service they had. So what people bring to mind are the negatives. I guess the bottom line is that I feel like I should be my kid’s first line of defense, his Public Relations agent. I can be upfront about his mistakes, but I should also want to present his upsides to the world. Enough people will pick him apart in this life. It is not my job to be one of those people. I can call him on his stuff and correct, but not drill into his head that he is a bad kid. I want people to see my whole kid, and that, despite the occasional crying, he is a wonderful person.
So after my friend gave my son that compliment, and after I sold him out briefly, I took a deep breath, and I said, “You know what? I shouldn’t have said that. What I should have said was thank you. He IS a sweet boy.”
Because he is.