- Susie Csorsz Brown
I did what every Parenting authority, what every magazine, what every counselor tells you not to do: I caved. Why? I just couldn’t take it any more. A minute little itty thing has blown up to gargantuan proportions, completely out of scale. But it’s there, and it isn’t going away, and one less battle in the mornings would be so much appreciated. Mornings – especially school mornings – just bite. Bet a number of you know what those types of mornings feel like.
Here’s the thing: the ‘thing’ is such a little trivial thing. Or should be, anyway. But it’s not. To me, it’s a big thing: It’s the sport short thing. This is just one of those things. I just really can’t abide by my kid wearing sport shorts to school every day. Not just to school, but every day. They are just so slovenly. For sports, sure. But every day? Sigh.
He gave his arguments. I gave mine. Friends, this has been going on now for months. It has gotten to the point where I put out sport shorts for PE days, and then on the other days, he’d have to wear the other kind. And then it got to him saying he was really hoping we could go swimming that day so could he just wear his swim stuff instead of regular clothes, just in case we did get to go? (I have to admit, I thought that was pretty cute. Until I figured out that he was just doing that because swim trunks are pretty much sports clothes. Yeah, pretty clever. The way this child’s mind works… I foresee trouble for me in the teenage years…) Finally, this battle EVERY morning on top of the breakfast battle … I just can’t do it. I’m done. I can’t do this every single morning.
I realize, though, that in the end, I have not made my life easier. This is the sticker, right? This is the reason why all of those in the know say don’t cave: you cave, and then you’ve just taught child in question (and perhaps those observing, as well) that if you keep at it long enough, if you nag, or whine, or pitch a fit long enough, your parent will give in and you will win. Is it a battle? Isn’t it? I think perhaps it is. Not in a bloody, all-out war sense, but in a life-has-to-be-quasi-orderly sense. I have my own sense of order (and it so does not involve sport pants every single day), and my son has his. We have to figure out how to meet in the middle, right? Except our middle ended up closer to his side of the argument so he won. And I taught him a lesson that sticking to your wants, sticking to your guns, will get you to where you want. When I frame it that way, it seems like a positive teaching moment. Maybe if I keep telling myself that, I ‘ll feel better about the situation.
Isn’t that something we DO teach our kids, though? Stick to what you want. Get your point across clearly and with your reasoning, and others will see and buy into your ideas. So yay for him, right? Except that his winning in this case means I lose.
Learn from my mistake, friends. Don’t do this the hard way, like I apparently have to.
So what’s the lesson here? I don’t know what I’m trying to tell you. The fact is, we do our best as parents to teach our kids to know their mind and to be eloquent (as one can be at age 6 or whatever age they might be as they stand in front of you and stick to their guns) and to stand up for what they want. And then, when what they want is not what we want, do we really have the right to be angry? This is a bit like our parental teaching moments and prowess biting us in the a$$, methinks. Is it really going to hurt my kid to wear sport shorts every day? So he’ll look like a hooligan (okay, maybe not). He does have a point that he is one to run and play and get all sweaty so shouldn’t he be wearing sport clothes so he doesn’t ruin the others? I get that. So, maybe this isn’t quite a win-lose situation so much as a win-kinda’-sorta’-win situation. But it really does take a lot of will power to not make snotty comments about the shorts. (I did the opposite: this morning I commend the other two on their really nice regular shorts. How’s that for passive aggressive?)
Are the experts right? Maybe. Is my kid right? Maybe. Am I? Maybe. I’m sure I’ll have a different battle on my hands about some other non-issue next week so I’ll just chalk this up to a quasi-lesson learned and go on my way.