About a year and a half ago I wrote this post about my daughter turning five. Yesterday my son reached that milestone and as I reflect on this barely-contained ball of energy I find myself confronted with much different feelings. Make no mistake, I’m incredibly proud of my li’l buddy. Like 99.9% of the population he is not a prodigy, but as I felt back then I continue to believe there is this sense of unlimited potential about him. I truly think this child could do anything he puts his mind too. The thought both excites and terrifies me because in every way I can can conceive of, he is exactly like me.
Because I see myself in him, I fear for him much more so than I do my daughter, or at least I fear for him in much different ways. I know what I went through growing up. Being small. Being shy. Lacking in self-confidence. These are not recipes for easy times during one’s grade school years and I struggle with how I might help him find the courage to endure these years with confidence in who he is.
At the same time, because things sometimes came easy for me early on, it didn’t take long for me to just want everything to come easy. I didn’t want to work hard; I just wanted to have the answers and move on to something fun (games). There is no doubt my lack of drive and unwillingness to take chances has cost me in my professional life and when I look at my son and see just how much like me he seems to be, it’s monumentally difficult not to be hard on him; to push him to not be me; to be better than me.
Somewhere there is a line between coddling and being an overbearing monster of a parent and I struggle with it daily. I worry in equal parts that I am both too hard on him and then not hard enough. How do I strike that balance that will bring out the excellence I know he has without making him feel like he disappoints me whenever he inevitably missteps? (The truth being I’m far more worried about being a disappointment to him.) How do I help him to find his bliss in life and go after it with every ounce of determination he can?
Ultimately, I know these are concerns for another day. He’s five years old for goodness sakes and he’s already such an amazing kid that I know I should set worry aside and enjoy him for who he is right now, because who he is, is a bright, surprisingly articulate, fun-loving kid who is quick to smile and laugh. He is everything I could possibly have asked for in a son.
Happy birthday, Kyle. Your mom and I could not be more proud of you and you will have our love, always.
Also, please stop hitting your sister. That’s not nice.