Saturday, May 24, 2008

Driving with the brakes on

I have always had a hard time letting people show me how to do things.

And as a result I end up doing things the hard way.

A few years ago I decided I wanted to grow tomatoes for the first time. I bought all the plants and the soil and the pots and eagerly set to work on our back porch, visions of jars and jars of homemade tomato sauce dancing in my head.

And Rob, a green thumb, from a long line of green thumbs, was thrilled to see me take an interest in one of his hobbies and was anxious to help.

Except I wouldn’t let him.

“You have to plant them really far-”

“Let me do it.”

“Ya, but if you don’t-”

“Let me do it!”

“But I’ve done it before and-”

“JUST LET ME DO IT OKAY?”

So I planted the plants too close together and most of them died. When I tried to stake up some of the survivors, Rob tried again.

“You just have to-”

“ROB, YOU ARE NOT RESPECTING THE WAY I LEARN!”


So Rob finally gave up and I tied the surviving plants way too tight when I staked them up. Every single plant died a gruesome death and we ate canned tomato sauce all winter.

I had no one to blame but myself and it was not an enjoyable learning experience.

I need to work on listening to people: I know that. Because even though stubbornness, stupid stubbornness, is part of who I am, it’s a part of me that has made my life more difficult than it needs to be.

And even worse than that, I am queasy sometimes to think that my son may be destined to go down the same hard roads I have always insisted upon treading.

Graham got a tricycle for Christmas and over the last few weeks I’ve been out with him several times, trying to help him learn to ride it.

Except he doesn’t want my help.

Time and time again he refuses to put his feet on the pedals and insists instead on pushing his feet along the ground to propel him and the tricycle forward. He frequently bumps his shins and gets his feet caught under the back wheels. As soon as he gets some momentum his feet drag on the ground, slow him down and threaten to upset him entirely.

It’s painful to watch.

“Graham sweetie, look, just put your feet on the pedals and-”

“Nope!”

“But if you use your feet to push the pedals like this you can-”

“NOPE!”

“Just let mama push you and then you put your feet up and-”

“NO MAMA! GO ‘WAY MAMA!”

Which I think is another way of saying “MOTHER YOU ARE NOT RESPECTING THE WAY I LEARN.”

And so I step back and let him do it himself. Because I must.

But damn it’s difficult to watch him tire himself out dragging that blasted tricycle around, getting up just a little bit of speed but then stumbling over his feet and tumbling in frustration just as the breeze starts to blow in his face.

Yup, that’s my boy.

Doing it his way, even if it is the hard way.

Just like his mama.

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56 comments:

Backpacking Dad said...

Tell him every time he rides with his feet dragging it makes Santa, the baby Jesus, and Elmo cry.

womaninawindow said...

I bet if you planted tomatoes this year you'd do it differently...you might still resist input but you'd do it differently. Right? We all get to where we're going, in the end-

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Just wait until he's 18--the stakes are higher and it's a whole lot harder to stand by.

In the meantime, since I'm pretty sure no pedals is developmentally appropriate, you could just remove them.

Mental P Mama said...

That face allows him to do anything he wants in my book;)

Kathy said...

Oh man, I have one of those too. I've never heard it put quite like that though. I guess when I compare their very stubborn childish impatient quirks to my own much more grown up way of behaving in the exact same manner...I have no one to blame but myself. :)

Angella said...

To quote my 3-year-old?

I DO IT MYSELF.

Funny. I *think* that ALL THE TIME :)

sky girl said...

lmao at Backpacking Dad!!

Your way of learning sounds a lot like mine. :)

KathyLikesPink said...

Aww those pictures are just the sweetest thing.

My daughter was like that too, with the pedals. And she still doesn't let me show her how to do things. She's 13. (sigh)

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I find there are certain things I cannot allow myself to watch; a child learning to pedal is one of them. It can drive you nuts.

What really works is for him to see other kids pedaling, by the way.

caramama said...

I am the exact same way. And I never considered that my daughter would be to. Uh oh!

He is so adorable on that bike!!

Vered said...

It's so much more painful to watch our kids make mistakes than it is when we make our own mistakes.

I see in my daughters, especially the older, character traits that they received from me and that I really dislike, because they make life harder. I know that I am powerless to change that, and it's really painful at times to realize that they will do the same mistakes that I did and will NOT learn from my experience.

Kami said...

My kids are the same. I have no idea where they get it from, I am so open and willing to learn from others.

HA!

And if you believe that then I have a bridge to sell you too ;-)

OHmommy said...

And so it begins.

;)

Haley-O said...

Ha! Well, at least he's ADORABLE. But, I know how frustrating that is....Trust me.... ;)

Dawn said...

I think it's most difficult of all to accept helpful advice from my husband. Graham is so cute ;)

Mommy Cracked said...

It's tough having to sit back and let them figure things out on their own. I want so bad for my son not to hit life's stumbling blocks, but I know those experiences are what will shape him. But it's still tough. *sigh*

chelle said...

OOoo it is SO infuriating when they will not listen to reason! But alas I fear, much like yourself they get it from me ... will power, it is a mixed blessing :)

Momma said...

Ha! It was probably just as hard for your hubs to watch you kill the poor innocent tomato plants. :-) I killed three of them last year. The tomatoes that did grow were barely edible and most fell prey to insects before they were ripe. I may have to give up my Southern Woman card for that. I'm still waiting for the knock at my door....

"Ma'am, have you ever successfully grown a tomato plant?"

"Uh....(backing away) I hear my phone ringing."

"Ma'am, we demand access to your backyard..."

Oy. I hope that day doesn't come!

Peace - D

Amy said...

Best of luck! Matt just got his training-wheels off! You've got to love these milestones!

Brittany said...

You know... I find it frightening when I see aspects of myself in my children, as well... well, the BAD aspects of myself. haha.

kittenpie said...

Oh, I could have written this. I am the same way. But I also found that Pumpkinpie did it that way for a bit until she figured out it wasn't working all that well and discovered the pedals, likely through watching someone else riding and trying it out without being told, which I think she might resist a bit, too.

Her favourite outburst lately is about us not letting her finish talking, which frustrates her. I get that. I'm working on it. It can be tough to accommodate when two people have the same trait!

Wendi said...

I can totally relate.

I am a stubborn girl too.

My kids? Just. like. me.

What have I done?

April said...

You seem to be struggling with this a little less than I am. I'm a lot like you, but I'm having trouble showing empathy to my own girls trying to learn by themselves. Something I definitely need to work on.

Melisa said...

It's always so very interesting to me to discover the little (and not so little) things that my kids have genetically inherited from my husband and me. Sometimes it's more thrilling than others, obviously, but everytime we make one of these discoveries, it's sort of like finding a pretty shell at the beach.

(and that's about as profound as I've ever been, in a comment!)

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Ack! You are just like me! I found it actually painful to read this, cuz I am like, 'Sshhhh, just let her do it herself!' at the same time telling you(me) in my head to just listen. One of my boys is just like me in this as well. Now I mostly get eye rolls before they totally glaze over. I now write instructions down for him to look at when he is ready. I am hoping that is better.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Ahhh, but it's THIS way of doing things that has lead to all the great leaps in our societies! Nothing wrong with a little obstinance now and then (at least that's my story and I'm stickin' to it)
This was a great post :-)

a kelly said...

This post made me laugh and cringe at the same time! This was definitely my daughters way of learning. Can't understand it! I've got to research the "right" way, follow the rules...so boring.My daughter always did it her way too.
My aunt told me a saying from the old country (translated but said with an accent)
"It's not what you know, but how you find it"

Kelly said...

OMG I am just like you, and my 3 year old daughter is just as stubborn as I am... My father likes to tell me that Payback's a Bitch LOL

Susiewearsthepants said...

I used to do the same things to my girls. Finally, after years and years of frustration/stubborness on my part, I gave up. For example, my youngest is half Yankee (her dad is from Michigan) and in the winter, I have to force her to wear a coat. This year, I gave up. If she wants to freeze her *ss off, let her. Same thing when she wants to swim or play in the water hose too early.

painted maypole said...

they sure learn from us... the good and the bad!

The Boyds Family said...

Yep, sounds like he's got a bit of that stubborn streak in him....like his momma ;)

Karen MEG said...

He is the sweetest, stubborn little one, isn't he?

I get that "go away Mama" a LOT these days too. But you have to admire that independence at such a young age ... it's a good thing, really it is ;)

Tootsie Farklepants said...

I don't think I can top what Backpacking Dad said.

Sue said...

He does have a look of sheer determination though. Hopefully he'll learn before his toesies fall off!

C said...

Oh, Kelly! I just LOVE your posts!!! First off, that those are some darn cute photos of Graham! He is adorable!

I suppose that learning the hard way really makes a person learn from experience though! :) I couldn't imagine doing everything the way my Mama told me! How fun would that be? ;)

P.S. You had me laughing at the tomato planting story. I am much like you in the way that I don't listen to what Hubby tries to say even if he is trying to give me advice on doing something. He gets the same "Just let me know it on my own!!!" LOL!

Great post!

Indy said...

Did the same thing with tomatoes. I am also bad at researching. Why didn't I try to read about it first? Guess we have to all learn in our own way.

Mandy said...

I'm just like you. Frustrates my husband no end.

Re the trike, some kids find the more recumbent ones difficult. I know Nate did. We ended up getting one where the pedals are under his seat.

Chelle Y. said...

He is a cute little guy! That's for sure! :)

Jobthingy said...

yep.. the aple doesnt fall far from the tree. i am a bit hardheaded myself.. so i totally understand

tommie said...

Makes you cringe how much like us they can be....

The foot dragging is the exact reason we got some Keens Newports for the kids. They are like sandals but have a rubber toe guard. No more torn up toes!

McMommy said...

Love this post! Reminds me of another McFamily I know....heh heh!

Your son is adorable and has the best hair ever!

McMommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

I like your story about the tomatoes. It hit home for me with many projects I attempt. My son is like that as well. He wants to do it his way. I think the life lessons are better learned when done on their own. Jen is right. Stakes are not too high yet at this age.
nice post.
great pictures
Thanks!

Family Adventure said...

YOU ARE NOT RESPECTING THE WAY I LEARN.

I am totally stealing this line. Brilliant!

Heidi

InTheFastLane said...

Been there, planting the tomatoes soon. Some of us are just built that way.

Jen said...

This is such a cute post. It seems to alternate between being fun and being unnerving seeing my kids do things the way I do.

skiplovey said...

That pic is so darn cute.

It's so painful realizing your own mistakes, especially when it's pointed out to your by your own kid. Live and learn I guess.

Elaine A. said...

A blessing and a curse, huh?

I love his hair by the way. You've got one cute boy, even if he is stubborn like his mama! ; )

Reluctant Housewife said...

I think independence is a good thing... although hard for moms sometimes. My Buddy is very independent, too.

He's a super-cutie.

La La said...

You are killing me with cute! He is so adorable, and I can so relate the way the two of you learn!

Joanna said...

Mercy! Makes me wonder what he's thinking while looking at the camera. Such cuteness - all part of his plan at taking over the world.

The Walsh's said...

Ohhhh yes. This was me as a child and me today. He probably won't grow out of it. And he'll be just like you. And he'll probably hate you for it between 13 and 17, but there's no better way to be when you're up against the world. Strong. Independent. Confident. Good for him and GOOD FOR YOU :) Dead tomato plants and all...

Mrs. Chicken said...

I have one just like that. Only her first response is "I CAN'T!" Then she finally does it, and lo and behold, she CAN.

Just like her mama.

Lisa said...

But he's so cute doing it that way, isn't he?


I'm a stubborn one too - and am learning about the difficulties of parenting a stubborn child first hand now. Sorry, Mom!

Jaina said...

Though the argument could be made that you will retain the learning better through this process. Might cause you a headache once in a while, but you might feel more accomplished in the end.

HRH said...

What goes around....

Too cute.