“Why?! Why do you always have to take it one step further, Little Man?”
Tonight, those words came out faster than I could catch myself and they hit me like a freight train.
I’ve heard that sentence a few times in my life. Usually from my dad, but I’ve heard it frequently from both parents over the course of my life. The last time wasn’t all that long ago.
Taking things a step (or more) too far is an art form, you know.
Wait, that makes it sound like it’s something I’m proud of. I’m not at all. In fact, I frequently want to slap myself in retrospect.
Some of that is just youth. I’ve learned to hold back more with age, but a lot of that is my personality under three circumstances: when I’m excited about something, when my feelings are hurt, and when I feel judged.
Watching his little personality develop and noticing how much he has in common with me is both amazing and absolutely terrifying. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten frustrated with him and realized (sometimes before I respond, but not often enough) how much he’s like me.
Isn’t it funny how having kids immediately shifts the focus from what your parents didn’t do for you, to how much they did? Or is that just me?
Taking something “too far” can be a great thing if we’re talking about persistence in something like a talent. My parents often expressed how great they thought it was that I didn’t give up on trying out for things (ie: musicals, choir solos, marching band leadership positions) no matter how many times I didn’t get them. Ok, clearly I didn’t have the talent, but that’s not the point. My mom always told me the same story about a friend who made it in an opera career due to persistence. I’m sure there was some talent involved there, too, but she didn’t give up. And I want that for Little Man.
What I don’t want for LM is a lonely future. I really believe that the same trait that makes it possible for him to be persistent about something he cares about goes hand in hand with taking things a step further than anyone else would, in general.
For instance, I don’t believe most people enjoy a friend who routinely takes arguments too far, like I used to. Let’s just pretend I don’t do that anymore…
How do I foster something that can obviously result in something great, while teaching him the possible disadvantages? Do I even need to worry about it? I don’t know.
I know that I see his heart in everything he does and I pray that others do, too. I believe he’s like me in other ways that have helped me, like: he’s quick to cool down, forgive, and ask for forgiveness. I just know that for me that hasn’t always been enough. As my mother’s pointed out, words can be sharp and some wounds are just too deep.
Parenting’s hard. It’s a rough journey. It’s so difficult to know which traits to encourage.
Should I just recognize what he has in common with me and give him the grace of understanding where he’s coming from? Should I discourage the traits which I know have brought me pain to spare him? Or are those “bad” traits tied to some major strengths?
There’s no right answer and that’s the hardest part. But, thankfully, there’s a bible verse that fits (thanks for reminding me of this verse today Ashley) Proverbs 10:12 – Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers all wrongs. All I can do is love my son. If every decision I make is based out of love, then God will take it from there.