Friday, November 2, 2012

Why don't they come with Instructions?

They don't come with an instruction manual, neatly packaged in a plastic bag when you bring them home from the hospital. Why is that?

Raising children is rather like being handed a box of stuff - pieces and parts - and we have to try to put it together to make something awesome.

(OK - work with me here... Really ~ we know our kids are awesome individuals... and it's US that we're teaching... for for the sake of this post we're going to pretend that it's the parents that are teaching the kids.)

When my daughter came along, it was a shock. I didn't have a clue of how to socialize her, making her conform to MY idea of a well behaved child. So I set about establishing a set of rules for her behavior, and my expectations. Don't cross the street alone. Always hold my hand when we're in a parking lot. Don't talk with your mouth full. Etc. Etc. Etc.

And then my son came along.

Really HE should have come home with The Manual for Parenthood. The one that I wish I'd had to teach me how to control my frustration at his youthful exuberance and not take it out by being overly critical or rule bound. His enthusiasm made me feel old and stuffy. And the harder I tried to control him, the more he acted out. Cycling down until both of us were angry.

I had to find another way to deal with my own frustration. Because he was merely a reflection of my own stuff.

And that, in a nutshell, is where Kivi and the Lizard People came from.

I learned. It took a while. I had to let go of behaviors that my parents had gotten from their parents. And in the process of writing this story, and living my life, I have built a strong relationship with my son.

Is it perfect? No.

But it works for both of us. For now. Tomorrow it will be different. As we both will be.

The journey through parenthood has been worth it, even though it hasn't always been easy. Mostly because I thought the problem was him. It wasn't. It was about ME. And it took writing a children's book for me to really get that.

I hope you allow yourself to enjoy time with your children. Give yourself breathing room and space to learn new things, and unlearn old ones.

Bless you,

Gayle McCain

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