Friday, November 17, 2006

Kids Are Always Naughtier for Their Parents

When my teenagers were little, I would pick them up at the babysitter’s house, and she would tell me what little “angels” my boys were. “Are we talking about the same kids here?” I would ask. I couldn’t believe how well they behaved for her! They morphed into little monsters as soon as they stepped through the door at home!

I now have twin preschoolers, and it’s happening all over again! Their preschool teachers just love them! “They are such sweet little boys,” they tell me. I can’t believe it’s the same little boys who destroy my house and try to maim each other every day. They, too, have Jekyll and Hyde personalities. But I know this phenomenon isn’t unique to my kids. Another mother at preschool told me that her little boy has destroyed her house, yet is good as gold at school.

It’s sad, but I almost dread hanging out with my twins in public. When they’re in Sunday school or preschool, and I happen to be visiting or volunteering, they cling to my legs and cry, refusing to participate in the activities. But when I’m not there, their caretakers assure me that they’re just fine (after the initial clinginess as I drop them off).

In a way, it’s sweet that they want me, but it’s also exasperating . . . and, I admit, somewhat embarrassing. After all, we all want our kids to be “perfect,” especially when other parents are watching! I find myself making excuses when my boys act out in public. “Oh, they’re overtired,” I’ll say. Or, “He’s just acting that way because I’m here.” Or even, “He’s not feeling well right now.” It’s natural, I guess, not to want people to think we’ve managed to raise little “mama’s boys” or spoiled brats.

Fortunately, I have the benefit of hindsight since I have two teenagers. I know this kind of behavior won’t last forever, nor is it a sign that they’ll end up clinging to my coattails for the rest of their lives. It’s a normal developmental stage that most children go through. Some day, my twins will be more than happy not to have me around. And, sadly, that stage lasts a lot longer than the other one!

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