I love everything about this picture—his smile, his adorably large head, his long legs undoubtedly inherited from his father. George is nothing short of amazing and there are days when I am so grateful to have such a sweet, loving son and so very thankful I get to be a part of his development.
But then there are the other days—those days when George’s energy and spirit seem to be used directly and purposefully to test me. Because while George’s physical traits are mirror images of Will, his emotional ups and downs are 100% me. George has such happy, excited highs and such distraught and hysterical lows with very little in between. When I say “black” he says “white;” when I ask him to do something, his first instinct is to say “no.” Or, more accurately, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” And on the tougher days, like yesterday, I find myself at a complete loss of how to handle him. Frances was a dream child at three-years-old—on the off-chance I had to correct her with a firm word or merely a stern expression, she immediately corrected her behavior and all was forgiven. Conversely, George is unfazed by disappointing me. The only leverage I have is taking away a favorite toy, putting him in time-out, and (I’m not proud to admit) spanking as a last resort. In five years I have never spanked Frances. In the last five days I have spanked George at least three times. Boo me.
My fear with George is that this defiant behavior, if left uncorrected, will produce an exponentially more difficult adolescent and adult. He is (nearly) 100% my responsibility; if he goes astray, I have no one to blame but myself. But an even greater fear than that (yep, it gets worse … at least in my head) is that I am not doing this parenting-thing right at all. Because, so far, my techniques don’t appear to be working. Maybe George’s personality deserves more than I know how to give. Surely there is a better way to harness his incredible passion and turn it into something positive and inspiring rather than the daily downward spiral of a power struggle. There has to be a more constructive way to handle him other than losing my cool and putting him in time-out for the nth time that morning. It’s stressful; it’s tiring; it’s just not fun; and I’m constantly aware of how much it takes away from Frances. George deserves better and no doubt Frances deserves a better parenting role model and a happier little brother.
I love them enough to know that I don’t know enough. I’m deferring to the experts on this one and will gladly accept any advice from any of you. If nothing else, I plan to read some of the recommended books about children like George and look forward to reporting back from the other side.
Happy Wednesday, everyone!