I love my kid SO much, but the summers are hard for us: we really seem to struggle, relationship-wise. We fight a lot. A LOT.
He wants no rules or boundaries around his computer use, for example, and we are enforcing time limits.
He wants to sit in the front seat all the time, which I am not comfortable with, safety-wise.
He wants to stay up until 9:00 every night, no matter how tired he is.
Every boundary we set, he questions and argues and tries to negotiate – mostly with me.
I know this is because of me; I believe really strongly that, as a parent, my responsibility is to listen to my child’s opinion on something – even if I disagree. And it’s really important to me that Owen feel heard and given space to feel whatever it is he feels.
So that means I hear it all.
I know this is part of having a kid – especially an only child, who often is more comfortable with adults than with other kids, who, because we try and treat him equally and fairly, feels it’s unfair that there are rules that apply to him and not to Jeff or I.
But woof. It’s exhausting.
And I really, really hate being the enforcer parent, the one he argues with; there are days where I feel like he’s angry with me all the time. That’s not the kind of relationship I want with him, one where I’m tired and frustrated a lot.
Do we really have to fight about this? Can’t he just trust that I’m his mom and know what’s best for him?
But I’m his mom, and it’s what I need to do. He’s a kid, and his questioning will serve him well someday.
I get it.
Doesn’t mean I have to like it though.
Yesterday, Owen woke up tired and grumpy (again, probably went to bed too late, but whatever!). At breakfast, he asked if he could skip camp for the day, because, Mom, it’s really hard sometimes to start the week.
Which I totally get. Mondays are hard.
But there it was: the challenge.
I could say no, and enforce the boundary that we paid for camp, he goes no matter what. If I did that, he’d fight me on it, and we would start yet another week off with a fight, and Jeff is traveling, and this is exhausting, and god, why can’t we just have a normal day without any fighting?
Also, it’s summer. My boss doesn’t work on Mondays, and three out of four of my coworkers are currently on vacation. I worked late last week, too, which means I was ahead of my hours for the week.
Really, Karen, can’t you just take a day and hang out with your kid?
So I said yes.
I did have a few conditions: I needed to go to work for a bit, but he could come with me and play the computer for a bit while we were there. I also needed to swim for a half hour, but I could do that at the pool in the afternoon when we were there.
And it was one of the most enjoyable days I’ve had in a long time. I got some items crossed off my work to do list. He actually swam a few laps with me when I did my swim there. We played catch in the pool for a full hour. We played frisbee.
At dinnertime, he was like a whole other kid; cooperative and helpful. When I told him we couldn’t watch a movie because it was 8pm and it would be too late (and also, his screen time that day was up), he didn’t argue with me.
It felt like a vacation.
Maybe the pushing boundaries and trying to pick fights with me is really about the fact that he wants time with me.
So for the rest of the summer, I’m going to try and and clear an afternoon or two a week so that he and I can go do something fun.