9.02.2010

In Which I Call You "Abby".....

Dear Abby,

I write today to implore you for help.  Maybe not so much help, but some possible creative solutions.  I'm reaching my wits' end, and, frankly, the ingenious corners of my mind are closed for business. 

You see, I am struggling.

Because I've just come to the determination that parenting is hard, and I really don't like it much right now.  It's all unicorns and rainbows when the precious sounds of my offspring giggling resonate through the house, but it pretty much just plain sucks when it comes time to deal with all this complicated mess.

Here's a little background:  I'm the mom of 3 fine and delightful male specimens.  All precious in their own right, but so incredibly different.  My oldest is creative and uberly-smart and sensitive and is drawn to all things nerdy and geek-related.  My youngest has the face of a Gerber baby and could melt Mt. Everest with one bat of his eye and one spoken word.  And my middlest is our athlete and holds semi-rockstar status for reasons that I still haven't quite grasped. 

Sounds like a fantastic melting pot of personality and talents, no? 

Oh, for sure.  It has been.

Until now.

Because now we're entering the phases of childhood where the blinders come off, and jealousy and sensitivity rear their nasty heads.  And to be honest with you, I have no earthly idea what I'm doing trying to manage it.

The oldest of our male species is especially having a hard time right now.  He's 10 and super-intuitive, and it isn't rocket science for him to figure out that his little brothers are rockin' the casbah right now.  Sports are a big deal in our home, and all the boys are actively involved in several organized teams, but the oldest one just can't seem to find his own way away from his rockstar brother and his way-too-cute-for-his-own-good brother.  People can be so cruel without meaning to be, by continuously doting on one brother all while hanging the other brother out to dry.  And it's hard as a parent to not be able to assure one of your children that is being hurt by it that it will get better.

Here's the deal, Abby.  I know what the right thing to do is.  It's to let him find his own way.  Find his own niche.  Eliminate as much competition as possible between the brothers, even though we're not purposefully breeding it at home.  I know that the right thing to do is to dote on his accomplishments and achievements and to treat each of our children as individuals, never comparing them or asking them to compete against eachother for any reason.

But, realistically, we live in a small town.  The opportunities aren't endless.  We live in a town where everyone knows eachother, and reputations are what seem to carry a person, however wrong that might seem to be.  Finding one's way is hard to do anyway here, let alone trying to claw one's way out of another's shadow.

So, my question is this:  Any advice or creative ideas in helping a youngster find his own way away, but respectfully so, from his little brother? 

I'm not looking for a sermon, because I preach to myself enough daily, but something tangible that really could help jumpstart some self-esteem in an already hormonal prepubescent.

Much thanks.

Signed,
About To Flush My Parenting Card Down the Toilet  

10 comments:

Kendra said...

I don't have much advice since mine are only 4 and 9 months but I was a sister who lived in her older brother's shadow. I had all his teachers and followed in his path being knows as "Clay's sister". I had to find my own way and I don't remember my parents pushing it. Just expecting me to be my best and encouraging me to explore my talents. Mine were music, not sports. What about him? Maybe he'd love guitar lessons or swim team or something? It's so hard to do those things when you homeschool and where there's only team sports options for boys who want to explore their talents. I feel for ya. Raising babies is easy. Raising men. A whole other story!

Lindsay said...

Not being a parent... no first hand experience. Recommend contacting www.myfamilytalk.com Dr. Dobson's newest show and ask about resources. Also a book by Lisa Weishel re: Creative Parenting.

Lori Motl said...

I don't have any words of wisdom at this moment, but I'll think on it. What I can say is that I'm ready to come to the flush party when you have it! I'm with ya sista'!

Jim said...

Amb,
I'm with Kendra on this one. Find an outlet of training locally that can sharpen his own specialties. Maybe a musical instrument, maybe an art class, a computor class, etc. He seems to have directable talents along some of these.

Maybe if he took guitar or fiddle, he could pair up with me - you know I just started this week on the mandolin.

I feel for you, babe! You're a great model mom in my book - so don't go flushin' your card yet!

Love you,
Jim-Dad

Jim said...

Amb,
I'm with Kendra on this one. Find an outlet of training locally that can sharpen his own specialties. Maybe a musical instrument, maybe an art class, a computor class, etc. He seems to have directable talents along some of these.

Maybe if he took guitar or fiddle, he could pair up with me - you know I just started this week on the mandolin.

I feel for you, babe! You're a great model mom in my book - so don't go flushin' your card yet!

Love you,
Jim-Dad

Angie said...

Sweetie, I wouldn't know what to do with a boy if Dr.Spock himself offered to be my tutor!
But it sounds like my oldest and your oldest are two peas in a pod. I try to keep the 'praise factor' even across the board with my two.
I'll pray for you and you pray for me and hopefully God will show us just what to say and when to say it!
Love you dearly!!

lisa@littlesliceoflife said...

I vote for drum lessons. And I'm intrigued by Jim-Dad's mandolin!

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

Three friends and I had this conversation while on a hike this week. I have a similar situation on my hands right now minus the jealousy part. My oldest just hasn't found "his thing". His vision impairment doesn't give him confidence in sports, and he's chosen to "sit out" rather than not be awesome. BUT NOW he wants to join in again and his peers are playing competitively making it harder for him to join in. So...he's not great at sports and doesn't know what he wants to "do".

My girls on the other hand want to do everything: horses, music, sewing, drama, cooking (if there's a class for it and it's non-sports related then they're IN!). It's just tough.

I'm willing to spend the same amount of time and money for child #1 but he can't tell me what he wants to do, and he doesn't want to "try" something unless he knows he'll like it.

PREDICAMENT.

What about a computer tech/design class for K? I know you live in a small town, but maybe a student would be willing to give him some lessons. Or maybe you could find one online? Will is taking a web design class at school and LOVING it. I know this isn't easy (age, hormones, confidence, etc). Hang in there!!!

Laura @ Our House Of Joyful Noise said...

Is there anything that he is passionate about? Where do his own real interests lie? If you aren't sure, maybe ask him what he'd like to do or try. Sports is not everybody's thing. But if there is one thing I believe, it is this: Everyone, on God's green earth, was given a gift. (If not more than one.) Something they were born to do. It often leads to their life's work. One can find their gift, by finding what they are truly passionate about. When they do, success is inevitable. And so is happiness.

New Every Morning said...

Don't flush that card. You're a good momma. The fact that you are wrestling with this just proves it.

Maybe you could play the "if you could do anything" game with him to get him talking. Then go from there.


I'll be praying for you dear friend. Cause I know from experience how hard it is to deal with a child who hasn't found her niche, while her sister is rocking the casbah.