There seems to be a law of parenting that goes something like this:
Good days are balanced by bad days, and vice versa.
Yesterday was a super good day. We explored. We had fun together. We followed our curiosity and our interest and did fun things.
Today? Not so much. Today, Cameron seemed like he was trying to give me a stroke.
When I groused about this to some long-time online friends, Eloise had some sage advice, advice I knew already, but sometimes you need to be reminded of these things. Our kids are five. Just five. And they’re totally unequipped to deal with overstimulation and excitement.
Today was Cameron’s belt test at kickboxing/karate. His first formal belt test, as he was ‘tested’ in class for the first one, for his yellow belt. He was excited about testing for his high yellow, looking forward to it all week. I tried to talk to him about what it would be like, that it was just like a class, the Senseis would ask him to do some things and he would just have to listen, and that when it wasn’t his group’s turn he’d have to sit still and pay attention. We talked about how sometimes he gets distracted if another kid is goofing around, and how he should ignore them and just focus on himself. But really, I know that kids aren’t very good at taking that sort of information and applying it to what to expect.
Today was really rather funny, in retrospect, though I still feel like screaming.
The morning was filled with poor behaviour, a refusal to do anything but play, constant poo jokes, whining, tears. On the way to the dojo he peed his pants. Once there, he ran around like a wild thing.
During the test? He couldn’t pay attention to the sensei, because he was too busy goofing at himself in the mirror. Silly faces, wild movements, odd poses. The only thing he managed to do well, as requested, was pushups. Hard to look at yourself in the mirror while doing those. Then he goofed around, disturbing one of the kids next to him, bouncing around, while he was supposed to be sitting still with the other kids. He was /that/ child.
He was having a blast. I thought I might have a stroke.
My parenting skills fell apart a bit tonight. I was disappointed in him. I want for him to be able to pull it together. I wanted for him to do well. It was about performance, about being good at it, not about having fun. I was /that/ parent.
So when Cameron came to me, all proud and wearing his new black and yellow belt, I found it hard to express the appropriate enthusiasm and happiness. I was mad at him. Mad because he couldn’t get it together to try hard, to do his best.
And now I’m mad at myself. Because he did try his best. Just simply going was trying his best, it was a new experience, one he was excited about. One of the things I love about him is his enthusiasm and his joyful excitement. But it also drives me nuts. No, I didn’t jump on him about his poor behaviour, but I also didn’t let myself ignore it and celebrate with him. I did tell him later, when we got home, that I was proud of him for getting his belt. But I also told him that I was disappointed that he couldn’t focus and pay attention, that he was goofing around watching himself in the mirror.
Next belt test won’t be for months for sure. But next time, he’ll have an idea of what to expect in a testing. And me? I’ll hopefully have more realistic expectations as well, and be able to let go a little, relax, know that the day will be challenging, and ease up on him.