Saturday, August 14, 2010


My aunt posted this quote on Facebook yesterday (although she doesn't remember who said it):

"Maturity: to be able to stick with a job until it's finished; to do one's duty without being supervised; to be able to carry money without spending it; and to be able to bear an injustice without wanting to get even."

I love it. In part because it's something I find myself still struggling toward, especially the part about money. And in part because I see my kids now facing this challenge: to move past the focus only on self, only on pleasure, only on their wants, and hopefully emerge on the other side as people who are hard workers, who want to do their best because it's the right thing to do and they honestly want to, who deal with money and finances and temptation far better than I do - and who aren't willing to be mistreated, but believe more in the power of Love and Example than the Eye for an Eye axiom.

Most days we're nowhere near that. I don't really expect it in the four year old, but I am starting to expect it in the nine year old, and often am feeling frustrated and embarrassed by what seem to me to be inexcusable behaviors for a child this age. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't really have a lot of experience with nine year old kids on a regular basis. But it feels to me if I'm doing a decent job at mothering that my son should be starting to show glimpses of these traits. I don't really see them yet. Will they come? Lord, I hope so. I do believe he is more immature than some other kids this age, just watching his peer-to-peer interactions, as well as those with younger kids. And I know they say this is true of Asperger kids: they are often quite bright and intellectually advanced, but socially delayed. I'm still not 100% sure he has Asperger's (that's a topic for a different day). But I am 100% sure that on any given day, I will find myself exasperated by his shoddy treatment of his sister, his apparent lack of work ethic and willingness to make a mess anywhere, his desire to spend every cent he might have, and definitely most of all, his sense that he must Get Even With and Teach A Lesson To whatever person or thing that (he believes) has wronged him.

Seriously, this Eye for an Eye, or really Eye for Your Whole Darn Head mentality is driving me nuts. I have talked with him at length about the Golden Rule, about treating others as you want to be treated (not necessarily as they are treating you), about reaping what you sow, about how two wrongs don't make a right. And yet at any perceived slight, he's practically ready to kill. Bonked his head on the cabinet? Obviously it was the cabinet's fault (as in, he really believes the cabinet moved to get him). And he must hit it back. Little sister bump into him while walking out of the gym? Clearly this must be dealt with by yelling at her and kicking toward her. Losing at a video game? Naturally the game won't let him win, and he will yell that while banging and complaining. It goes on and on and on. And so do my attempts to bring him back to reality, to teach all the lovely behaviors mentioned above. Sometimes I manage to do this in a calm voice. Sometimes, I admit, I do not.

I guess if nine year olds were meant to have mastered all of these behaviors, however, they wouldn't be considered only halfway to adulthood. If he were preternaturally mature in these ways, I wonder if it would freak me out. I don't know. What I do know is, a sign of my own maturing as a mom will be when I can remember, amidst the frustration and anger, to give him grace. And to give it to myself, also.

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