Last Friday I posted something about my most recent frustration with my oldest. Jake skipped his mandatory advanced placement biology exam. When he got home, he met my wrath, which resulted in my giving him the silent treatment for the rest of the weekend.
But, as the eternal optimist, I do believe these moments allow relationships to become 10x stronger than they were before.
By Sunday, we finally sat down to talk, and the conversation was straightforward and simple. We were both visibly upset—at ourselves and at each other. I lamented that I felt I had babied him his entire life, which resulted in his not being able to do for himself at anything – not even sitting for a damn exam. He admitted he hated my pushing him constantly to do things he didn’t/doesn’t want to do.
I told him welcome to real life; we sometimes do things we don’t want to, because it helps us later. Overcoming difficult – or challenging experiences is the fuel for more trying times, and the strength to persevere. And the trying times are always going to be there.
But that’s the boring stuff.
What came next was the icing on the cake—the crowning jewel on my ever developing relationship with a child that is really no longer a child anymore—but just about an adult.
At the end of our discussion he said: I’m really sorry I disappointed you.
And I blurted: I’m glad you did.
I paused for moment before finishing, because I wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to say at first.
I’m glad you did. Because believe it or not, it is your job at this point in your life to disappoint me. Just like it’s my job to let you down, or watch you struggle. That is life. I have to push you, you have to push back. This is how the world works.
It all seemed so simple, and suddenly what happened Friday felt not only unavoidable but absolutely necessary. I’m always discovering and rediscovering different parts of parenting with him—likely because he’s my oldest. I had him when I was so young, at 22 years old—when the rest of my friends were still going to frat parties and scoring internships. We were both inexperienced and I’ve always cringed at the fact that I am learning how to parent using Jake as an example. I’ve made all the mistakes on him. So, the first kid should be disposable? I’m not so sure, because I wouldn’t ask for a do-over on any of these experiences, tough as they are.
So then, it’s fair to say we’ve been learning along side each other for almost two decades. Which means the Biology blunder on Friday was a part of his growing up. And that it’s possible that the sting I felt was really just my own growing pains in letting go.