Anxiety runs in my family. And it turns out that Dino Boy (my 4-yr-old) has always been a rather anxious kid. When he was a baby, he would rarely smile at family members, let alone strangers. Oh, he would stare strangers down! It was like he was saying "Back off, buddy." You know, in baby speak.
He was a chronically cautious toddler (not as much now, but still is in many ways). The first time he tried to walk? Of course he fell. He didn't try again for a few months, and I just knew it was because he didn't want to fall. He wouldn't go down the slide at two. He'd scream on the swing, even if he was in my lap.
Oh, Dino Boy, how I love you and your anxious way of being.
Let's just say that Dino Boy is prone to...freak outs. Changes in his routine. New situations I haven't prepared him for. Dude, you should see him in a movie theater! Those folding chairs freak him out because he thinks they're going to squash him. And he's scared of the dark. I can't help laughing at how terrifying my son finds a common movie theater. If it weren't for the popcorn, I'd never be able to get him in the door.
So there's my set up. I have an anxious kid, and therefore as a mom I am constantly trying to make things look like they're no big deal. I'm constantly trying to help Dino Boy cope with nerves that will likely follow him the rest of his life.
One of the things I've been super worried about with the start of school is how easy he gets embarrassed...and how bad he freaks out when he does. It breaks my heart, honestly, when he forgets to grab his backpack after preschool and bawls the whole way home because he feels stupid. Nobody else forgot. Nobody else had to go back. Yes, these things already bother him!
Well, sometimes my "no big deal" attempts backfire. Sometimes I'm so chill about an issue that Dino Boy doesn't learn, um, proper etiquette. We've gotten over the backpack fiasco, but now we have an extreme...farting issue.
I know, all that set up just to talk about farts! I suppose I wanted it to be clear that I had no intention of turning my Dino Boy into that kid. You know the one I'm talking about—the one who farts on purpose and then laughs his head off about it. And not only does he laugh about his farts, but he laughs about Ninja Girl's farts. So now I have my beautiful little girl farting on purpose too! And they get in, like, farting BATTLES. Fart. Giggle. Fart. Snicker. Fart. Raging Cackles.
I've created two little MONSTERS! Originally, I was all "Okay, if I treat the fart like it's no big deal and everyone does it, then we can avoid a freak out at school if he accidentally farts and people laugh at him."
I was very well intentioned. I swear. Now I have to attempt to rectify my very well intentioned parenting, because it's totally backfired (which I just realized is a hilarious word to use in this post...I suppose that means the apple doesn't fall far from the tree). I have to admit I never saw this coming, though maybe I should have. This is what happens with first kids, isn't it? I hate admitting it's kind of like a big experiment with really huge consequences. But, well, it is.
Of course I was thinking about this in relation to writing, too. I've had some big old backfires in writing as well. I have written a first draft (or fourth) thinking I was doing the absolute best possible thing. It's only after I see the outcome that I can truly determine where I messed up. Some mistakes are small, but they have big repercussions. Some are big, but easily chopped out. The problems are always in places I never expected.
We always try our best. I truly believe that. But sometimes things backfire and that's okay too. All you have to do is re-teach your manuscript when and when not to fart...
Oh man, it's so wrong that I'm laughing. That was an epically horrible mix of comparisons. I'm pretty proud of that.