As parents we often need the reminder that sometimes the most irritating qualities possessed by our children are in fact ones we have shared with them.
For example, have a child who obsessively organizes his Pokemon cards? Well, look at your recipe box… I’m guessing it is obsessively organized. Apples do not fall far, as it were.
One of my sons can serve as the perfect example of this.
Case in point, my wife hates shopping with me. Why? You might ask. To describe my wife’s shopping style, I am going to borrow an expression from my time in the Marine Corps. She shops “with speed and intensity.” There is a list, browsing is unnecessary, and may God help you if you are in the way of the sale ice cream. Alternately, my shopping style is more adequately described as the “in no particular hurry” method.
How do our disparate shopping styles relate to the topic at hand?
Well, at least five times a day these words leave my mouth, “Will you please hurry up!”
You see, my middle son is also in no particular hurry… which drives me to near insanity.
And, just like me, he can tune out a conversations like a pro (yes, I’ve written about that before) and focus all of his intellectual abilities on the wrong thing. Sounds familiar.
In fact, just this last week I came home from work and immediately got to hear about how he got in trouble at school. Apparently, he and another boy were messing around in the bathroom and he peed on the wall (and the floor and possibly himself). When told about it, I expressed my disappointment and sent him on his way, saving my irrational reaction for the ensuing discussion with my wife.
“I can’t believe he would do such a thing! What is wrong with him?” I exclaimed to her in the secluded confines of our bedroom.
“Didn’t the nuns yell at you for the same thing?” She calmly replied.
“Sort of,” I admitted, “but it’s different. We weren’t messing around like that, we were just trying to see who could stand the furthest from the urinal and still make it in.”
And then it sunk in, 30 years ago I was sent to the office for peeing on the wall, the floor and probably myself.
Just as my wife has suspected all along, he is exactly like me, and it’s most often those qualities we share that drive me crazy.
So, moving forward, my job is to remember this lesson. The next time he is in no particular hurry to get to the store and shop with me (where I will then be in no particular hurry myself), I will be able to recall that he is this way because of me, not just to irritate me.
Then maybe I can show him a little more understanding, too.
Chris Donnelly is a working dad with four children.
You can read him every Thursday on momaha.com
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