The other boy I see as wonderful. Dutiful. Disciplined. Fun loving. Easy going. Everything I want my son to be. Exacerbating my emotions over this comparison at 8 AM, before I've showered or had my first cup of coffee was my conversation with my son last night over his social and academic concerns, fears and worries that came to light on the kick-ball field at recess.
It seems that the day before my son was relegated to playing third base. He claims this is the worst position to play, and that his friends were taking all the best positions first, and never throwing him the ball when he had the opportunity to get someone out. He continued that he yelled at his teammates so much for them to throw him the ball to get out other players that he gave himself a headache.
This is an issue in our house since our son gets migraines, which can be triggered by prolonged exposure to bright sun light, heat, or emotionally charged yelling.
Further compounding this was that our son had witnessed our youngest gaining a lot of attention and sympathy while recounting a story that his best friend was not playing the games that he wanted to at pre-school. Our youngest rarely gets upset like this, and our youngest keeps very few friends, while our oldest's feelings are hurt almost daily and seeks the friendship of as many children as he can.
When our oldest started to bring the name of another boy into the story I knew he was playing me and looking for sympathy at any juncture. This frustrated me, but I've also been reaching that point of thinking "it's time for this boys father (me) to impart a little tough love. It's good to be in touch with your emotions, but you have to toughen up the outer skin a little bit to wrestle your way through the jungle of male development in our society."
So as I was speaking with my son's classmate's mother this morning our conversation meandered around to our sons. She found out that hers was going to be in the same second grade class as his best friend. We determined that our sons were not going to be the same second grade class. We started discussing the pros and cons of the moves and changes, to which I added my perspective of her son.
"He's a great boy to have a student, a guess…" and she trailed off. I understood. These boys who are such well behaved children in every other venue cause such angst at home. My reply to her was "I'm so thankful to hear this. Now I realize my son's so…" and she finished with… "normal."
It helps that she's also a pediatrician. So we laughed for a spell about how our boys, who everyone else views as being such angels, are so difficult to rear at home. I see Tanner as a brooding boy who sees the world as glass-half-empty, but I also have come to learn that my reactions to him have been enabling the continuation of these patterns. (Realization, thanks to my mom.)
I know that having a benchmark of molding the perfect son is an unattainable quest, but in this world of ever decreasing levels of respect I don't see the benefit of lowering the bar for my sons.
My biggest fear is that despite having high aspirations for them they get dragged down by the lowest common denominators surrounding them, but given how others perceive them I guess I should not be so fearful. Maybe I can lighten up on him…a little bit. Not too much, though.