Anyone but you, Mom

Adrian happily swam across the deep end of the pool.

Not after I asked him to, no.  NO.  Definitely not that.  When I asked him to let go of the side and swim 10 feet, all I got was screaming and helpless flailing.

But one glance and an “I-think-you-can-buddy” from unknown lifeguard, and he was off.

Just like my months of encouragement to ride his bike without training wheels failed miserably, even when supplemented by bribery.  But the boys in the neighborhood had him riding in 5 minutes.

I might think it was just an Adrian thing, but the twins have also proved not just incapable of learning from me, but incapable of learning in my presence.

My mom enrolled them in skating lessons as early Christmas gifts.  What fun!  We thought.  Until we stuffed 3 year old feet into boots attached to blades.  On cold hard ice.  They acted like it was complete torture, wailing tragically and crawling desperately across the ice, unable to stand.  When they saw me, they threw magnificent tantrums, their red faces contorted with misery.

Unable to watch their distress, I left the rink feeling guilty.

But after I was gone, they stopped crying and started marching.  The next week, they were gliding.  By the end of the class, they passed all their “Snowplow Sam I” skills and marched across the ice with smiles on their faces.  As long as I wasn’t around, of course.

I’ve similarly failed to teach Stephen piano.  He happily learns from his teacher, but we had lessons that would have made Tiger Mother feel sorry for him.

What’s up?  Why can’t we teach our own kids?

I know it’s not just me.  I’ve interviewed other parents, my own parents….everyone experiences this phenomenon it seems.  I mean, remember all the good times you had learning to drive with your dad?  Yeah.  That’s what I thought.  Still in therapy.

I’ve been trying to figure this out.  Is it because Moms are too nice?  The kids think we’ll give them a break?  Then I realized, it’s the opposite!  I’m harder on my own kids than any one else’s.  Maybe we’re too mean, and our expectations are too high?

I listened to this podcast about mental illness, and they found that schizophrenic men who returned to their mothers or wives after being hospitalized were 2-3 times more likely to relapse than men who went to live in a group home.  They tried to figure out why, and came up with 3 main factors that harmed psychological wellness:

1)criticism

2)hostility

3)emotional over-involvement

So I was right.  We’re too mean becuase we care too much.  Well, what else are moms for?

We’ll use our own spit to clean your face, love you more than anyone else on the planet, make you do your chores, wring your neck if you disrespect your teacher, and feed you lots of good food.

And we’ll just have to hire teachers for the rest.

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About jennyvogan

Author of "Stephen's Mom," a blog documenting the funny, crazy life of raising four boys while keeping my day job as an ultrasound tech.
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