When your parents tell you that they can’t wait for you to have children, that can be interpreted as, “one day all of the hell that you put me through will be cast back upon you.” Well, I know for sure that’s what my mother meant, anyway. When my daughter was born, I was sure I had been spared the sarcastic, smart mouth, “know-it all” wrath that I was owed. My daughter is such an incredibly sweet and joyful spirit and that gentleness brings such a healing energy for those in her presence. She finds the bright side of every situation and it seems almost impossible for her to stay upset for long. Naturally, we wanted another one of these joyous creatures. Well, every bit of that sarcastic, smart-mouth, “know-it-all” wrath that I mentioned earlier was received twice over with my son. He is a seven year-old force of nature with two words for my every one. He rarely walks, as he prefers to run, jump or cartwheel as his main form of transportation. He has made a point of figuring out every curse word (and the most embarrassing times to try and use them in a sentence). He even went as far as writing down each letter of the alphabet and requesting to be told the corresponding curse word for each letter after he heard someone refer to a curse word as the “a” word. The kid drives me crazy. I actually spent a couple of years trying to figure out what I was doing wrong because having an extremely active, strong-willed, sarcastic, cynical, rule-breaking kid had to mean I was doing something wrong, right?
After many failed attempts to “show him who’s boss,” I had a breakthrough one day, about 30 seconds before heading toward a meltdown. I had told my son to clean his room about four times and it was still a mess. As I was preparing to yell, he ran past me into the living room, somersaulted onto the couch and yelled, “I love my life!” I burst out laughing; uncontrollable laughter from the depths of my belly. The kind of laughter that heals. When I couldn’t laugh anymore, I looked up at him and he laughed too. “You must love your life too,” he smirked. Then he did a combination of running, skipping and flipping through the house without giving his dirty room so much as a thought. I learned three important lessons in that moment. My rebellious kid is hilarious and that is his particular healing power, he is happy, and he’s never going to let me take that happiness away from him. Good for him. I stopped worrying about what I was doing wrong and began to marvel in what he was doing right. Of course, I have to teach him to respect certain boundaries, but I don’t have to be so determined to control him. It seems far more important that he learns to control himself. In order for him to do that he needs to value his own thoughts, feelings and insight and so should I. Instead of wincing in embarrassment or flying into “I’m the boss” mode whenever he rebelled with his highly sarcastic views on life, I started to listen. The more I listened, the more I began to realize that, every once in a while, the kid made a lot of sense. Here are a just a few pearls of wisdom inspired by my sarcastic seven-year old.
“I still want to be me, but I’m probably going to curse and drive a sports car.”
This is his response to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” because clearly a kid this confident in himself couldn’t fathom wanting to be anything other than what he already is.
Life Lesson: You don’t need to become anything. You already are everything that you need to be. The beauty of life is that you get to bring the value of who you intrinsically are into everything that you do…. even if that is cursing and driving a sports car.
“If other stuff is good for me too, then eating peas is stupid, REALLY stupid.”
This was his response to me demanding that he eat some of the peas (which he hates) on his plate because they are good for him. After he practically forced me to admit that peas aren’t the only vegetable that’s good for him I just stopped buying peas because I secretly hated them too.
Life Lesson: Do what works for you. Life offers enough opportunities for happiness that choosing things that don’t make you happy is stupid, REALLY stupid.
“ I hope you feel better soon. Maybe you should try not to look.”
This was his response when I told him “I’m so sick of looking at your messy room.” It’s basically his polite way of saying, “sounds like you are the one with the problem and you might want to make an adjustment.”
Life Lesson: Sometimes you have to stop worrying about other people’s mess. There are a few core values in life that justify us speaking out on other people’s behavior but in most cases it is just judgment. So, if you don’t like what someone else is doing perhaps you should consider not looking.