On the continuum of maturity, I’m somewhere in the middle of my two children.
This is a very strange place to be, and it leads to all sorts of awkward situations, along with starkly opposite parenting strategies.
The following conversation happened with my eleven-year-old about a pair of “distressed” blue jeans…
“WHY would you buy jeans that are already torn up?!”
“But they were on sale so that makes it not so bad that they already have holes in them, right??”
“No! I still think it’s silly. Why would anyone WANT those??”
“Because they look cool!!!”
“Not to me. They look like someone needs to go get them fixed.”
…Lest you didn’t figure it out on your own, Ali was the disapproving member of this conversation. And I still like my distressed jeans.
She’s at least ten miles ahead of me on the continuum of maturity. I honestly don’t know why she’s not running this family, as she’d definitely do a better job, and I’m not being sarcastic.
She’s a smart kid. And mature. More mature than me, obviously. She believes in a job well done, getting up early to get one’s responsibilities completed, and not shirking on any possible expectations.
Which led to the following slightly judgmental question she asked me…
“Mom, why do you have people come clean our house? Shouldn’t we clean up our own messes?”
First of all, let me say that they only come every other week..it’s not like we have a maid or anything, helping Ali step into her petticoats and dashing her plates and glasses off to the sink.
But I had my reply at the ready this time, as this isn’t the first time that she has lightly insinuated my deficiencies in this particular area of domesticity.
“Well, we do clean up our messes – they just do the deep cleaning part. And I have cleaning people come because I am not just a mom. I am your teacher. I run a photography business. I write. And I work for Daddy’s company. So I don’t exactly have time to clean after all that. Now if you would like to go to school so I am not also your teacher….”
“Oh. No, that’s okay. That makes a lot of sense. I understand now.”
..Because even though she could probably handle all that and cleaning, she’s mature enough to understand that perhaps I am not quite as gifted.
And then there’s the other extreme of the continuum.
On the last day of school (or, let’s be honest, three days after the last day of school when I finally got around to taking a picture), I handed the children these signs:
Noah smiled under orders for the photo, but as soon as I finished taking it, he looked down, scowled, and said “What?? Why does this sign say this?? It should say First Grade was TERRIBLE!!!”
(Ali knew what it said and still gave me a thumbs up. Because mature.)
(And here’s the first day of school picture. Because we need the comparison documented.)
But back to first grade.
First grade was not terrible. It was actually pretty great. But Noah will never admit it.
He’ll never admit to any positive attributes of anything but himself, because he doesn’t just live on the opposite end of the maturity continuum, he basks in it. He slathers it all over his body and doesn’t rinse. He has a soaking tub full of immaturity and contraryness in which he lives.
So I have learned to trick, deal, and otherwise cope with his stubbornness and inability to see the joys in life.
Such as….when we go on a hike, he cannot, will not, walk. He must run. If I make him walk, he acts as if I am the most suffocating mother ever.
Yet when I mention running, or cross country, or anything related to running, he groans in agony, says how much he HATES running and how it’s SO exhausting and boring and he could NEVER EVER run.
So we only “hike.” And he runs ahead. And we don’t mention that he’s clearly a runner. And everyone is happy.
And then there’s the issue of reading.
“I don’t like reading. Reading is the worst. It’s SO boring.”
“Hmm. Boring, huh? I think it’s time you started reading a chapter book.”
“What?! No way!!”
“Ali, go get Noah your prettiest Geronimo Stilton Book.”
“THAT’S TOO LONG!!!!”
“Sorry kid, I’m the mom. You have to obey.”
One day later…
“I hope our drive to lunch is long because I want to read one more chapter….”
“I’m going to bring my book in just in case I want to finish my chapter…”
“I’ll come lay in bed and read with you…I’m on page 80!”
“…I need a flashlight and a book to read while I’m in my rocket to the moon.”
“…Can I bring my book on our hike? I can hike and read at the same time.”
…But don’t you dare mention how much he must enjoy reading.
Because he absolutely HATES it.