My Kids Keep Me Humble

HumbleYou know how parents sometimes act like their feelings are hurt because their child prefers the other parent?

I don’t get that.

I figure they’re kids, and they’ll say whatever comes into their head, even if they don’t know they don’t mean it. It’s my job, as The Grown Up, to know the difference between what they think in a passing moment and their true feelings.

Then again, maybe it’s easier for me. After all, it’s my husband who catches the brunt of it. I’ve been the at-home parent, and, as such, the “default” parent. Plus, I have a bunch of mama’s boys, and only one daddy’s girl, and even she is starting to realize we XXs have to stick together.

Everybody always wants Mom. And with Michael hanging onto youngest child status, he’s really, really Mommy attached.

On the other hand, most days Nicholas seems truly incapable of calling me anything but “Daddy.”

They routinely turn their nose up at food I’ve labored over, and don’t notice that I’m keeping straight who likes what treats from the grocery store, or the fact that I’m cleaning up their messes for them, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

And even Michael, this week, told me I should learn to be a doctor, because he wants a different mommy.

Yup. He did.

But see, it really doesn’t hurt my feelings. I mean, it was only about two minutes later that he wanted nothing except a Mommy snuggle.

So I can roll my eyes about the ego blows of young childhood. Most of the time I laugh about it. (That’s certainly how Christian handles it.) Admittedly, every so often I give the whole gang the what-for on the topic of ingratitude. But that has more to do with raising decent human beings who have a shred of empathy than it does with stroking my ego.

Don’t get me wrong. I have plenty of ego. But almost all of it is reserved for professional concerns.

Still, my kids’ attempts to keep me humble–and how oblivious they are that they’re even doing it–make me wonder what my parents remember about my childhood. I wonder how often I cut them with my own cluelessness. I wonder how they felt as they saw us growing and backing away from them. How it felt to see themselves becoming peripheral instead of the center of our world.

I wonder, because I’m starting to think about the coming of those days in my own world. Alex is a beautiful, thoughtful boy who, tween moodiness notwithstanding, still trusts us completely and wants our help in deciphering the puzzles of the world, from sex to immigration and abortion and the complete, horrifying mystery that is Donald Trump. (Some things, I have to tell him, are beyond my understanding.)

I have a feeling that when our kids decide we’re too stupid to help them figure out the mysteries of life, I’m going to find that those darts sting a whole lot more than they do right now.