This is our son (pictured with his Uncle Matt, who is awesome). He’s ten and he’s pretty fantastic. He enjoys sports and reading and making his own movies. He’s incredibly smart and thinks fifth grade is easy. He’s really good at dodgeball and foursquare because he’s been playing both with high schoolers since he was two. He’s a leader and he loves Jesus. (Oh, and he gave me permission to write the story I’m about to share.)
On our last day in Arizona, the sun was shining and it was beautiful out. Which was nice, because the majority of the trip was kind of cold. We had just gotten back from swimming and he had changed into a clean pair of jeans. And he was not happy about it. “Can I change?” he asked, obviously frustrated. To which I answered, “No, you’re fine,” because I had just finished packing up our stuff and any opening of suitcases would have produced an uncontainable clothing explosion.
This was what set off our ten year old’s tirade. The jeans DIDN’T fit and they WEREN’T comfortable and why couldn’t he JUST change them and what was the big deal? To which I answered the big deal was that his jeans were FINE and they were GREAT jeans and yes, what was the big deal? I told him there was no way he was changing. His anger escalated and mine did as well. I tried the old, “You should be thankful for your jeans because some kids in the world don’t have pants.” And then I ended with, “Christian, you need to build a bridge… and get over it.” And all the while he was getting more angry and not caring about the jean-less kids of the world and most definitely not getting over it.
I left the room. I was angry too. Because it was a silly argument. And I didn’t want to give in. Because a huge part of me did feel that he just needed to get over it. And I didn’t understand why he couldn’t. I was irate. I was so mad that he was ruining a great last afternoon with his cousins because he was upset about a pair of pants.
He took some time and I took some time. Because sometimes in the challenging world of raising kids, you just need a little time. And while I was taking my time, I realized that whereas I was an adult and was wise enough to not let something so small ruin my day, my son… was ten. And still learning. And still having to learn the hard way at times. And that instead of being so angry at why he wasn’t doing what I wanted, I needed to help him learn to deal with things, in a more supportive and loving and helpful way.
We talked. And I told him that I was trying hard to help him know that sometimes, you have to deal with uncomfortable things in life. And you can’t throw a tantrum because you don’t get your own way. He was still struggling. Because he is a Type A personality. And he likes things to be a certain way. But he realized he was sorry for the way that he was acting. And so we hugged. And we found a compromise, in tying his pant loops together, so they fit a little tighter and all was well again.
Sometimes, we need to get over things in life. And sometimes, we just need to take time to figure things out and to help our kids figure things out. Sometimes we need to help them build that bridge. And all in all, I’m learning that this journey of parenting is not easy, but it’s good and hopefully it will produce some great kids in the end.