Clayton Kershaw Throws Heat

If you’ve been following my blog, you know KD and I have been banging heads these days.  Not all the time, but enough that it’s wearing on me.  Lots of factors are involved, and I know I’m a big part of the problem. I’m the adult and I should act like one, but it gets tough to hear that I’m mean, an awful parent, and a bad dad when things happen that he doesn’t like. (Sure, I have “Bad Dad Days,” but he wasn’t referencing times like last weekend when, left to our own devices, we skipped breakfast and had potato chips and fruit for brunch.)

In a somewhat desperate attempt to make a bold move in a positive direction, I recently asked KD if he would get in trouble if he spoke to his teacher “Miss C” that way. He told me he would, but it’s different because, “she’s not my dad.” He gets a different teacher in a couple of years, but he’s stuck with me.

Crap, where did that come from? He’s only eight. Did he hear my wife or me say something along these lines? Or did he come up with it on his own? Regardless, it was dead-on and shut me down mid-sentence. Seizing the opportunity, he bolted to his room, where he practiced Clayton Kershaw’s pitching motion.

As the therapist/dad who ALWAYS thinks about the interactions I have with KD, I felt somewhat annoyed to be “home-schooled” by an eight-year-old. But I also took some satisfaction in knowing that he wouldn’t have thrown his best pitch if he thought I would charge the mound.

And that’s the challenge, no matter what their age is, our kids throw their best pitches at us. When they do, they’re trying to get a sense of what’s ok in the “real world” and what’s not. Our job is to observe their dress rehearsals and give them thumbs-up or thumbs-down for what they do and say, so that when they leave the jungle and are out on their own they have a sense of what’s ok and what’s not.

Sometimes it’s easy to give our kids clear direction.  “No Johnnie, it isn’t ok to put half of your glue in your sister’s hair and eat the rest.” Or, “Sandra, when you find a wallet with $100 in it at the mall, you can’t toss the wallet in the trash and buy a round of espresso for everyone in Starbucks. You need to turn it in.”

Other times, it’s easy to get stuck in the weeds of what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s gray. It’s midnight and your son’s project for the science fair is due the next morning at 8 a.m. Sure, he should have done it weeks ago, but crunch time is crunch time. You know it’s wrong, but if he’s threatening to hold his eyes open with razor blades, is it time to take over?   As you lean toward “yes” memories of amazingly sophisticated projects that his classmates’ parents had to have done, seal the deal. As Sean passes out, you push him aside and knock the damn project out of the park.

Therein lies my struggle. The majority of my parenting decisions are clear, and I treat them as such. Unfortunately, many others are gray. It’s, “yes except when it’s not” and “no except when it is.”  KD picks up on this and uses it to his advantage. This mess leaves me really po’ed. Not at him. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do. He’s just trying to figure out what’s ok and what’s not. He’s still the amazing, sweet, kind, generous, and funny little creature he has always been. Instead, I’ve got to point the finger at me. As challenging as it is, I must struggle to be clearer. And it will be a struggle.  But it’s my job, and KD deserves the best I have.

 

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