It is a funny thing to see your kids through other people's eyes. I have three, and most of the time I think I am pretty good at cataloging where they stand in most instances. Tabbi is scary smart, and I can see that. But, she has the makings of an evil genius more so than Bill Gates the Second. She has potential in many things from music to sports, but her drive or motivation (or lack thereof) will end up keeping her pretty average. Will is a lover. He is sweet and playful, but overly sensitive and stubborn. He is LOUD beyond belief and his mommy-centrism keeps him from really exploring and enjoying new activities. Jack is Jack. He is funny and goofy and stubborn and sometimes down right mean. That little man will put his nose right on yours and smile like he is going to give you an Eskimo kiss and then WHACK! Here's a right hook to your cheek from out of nowhere. He thinks he rules the roost and he doesn't take no for an answer. See? I can admit the faults in my kids.... but then I get faced with someone else's opinion of the kids and suddenly... I have to wonder. Could I have rose colored glasses on and not even know it?
My friend Homa calls Will "lively." It's not really a slam, but it isn't a compliment either. I consider him active until someone points out that his activity isn't necessarily the most endearing quality. I sit here and say that I would rather have him be moving and shaking rather than zombied out in front of the boob tube, but then people will call him "active" or "lively" with a more annoyed tone and I am left to ponder... is he obnoxious? Are we heading down the ADHD super highway, and I have blinders on? How do you know if what you see as a positive because you love your dude so much is really a negative?
Other things have been called to my attention, too. Will has some pretty unsavory table manners right now, and I work really hard during meals to get him to behave. But, I chalk up his short comings to the fact that he is four and really... if the shrimp is too spicy, I would spit it into my napkin, too. But, then even my mom will say things like "I wish he would get past that already." Not an insult, but a wake up call that maybe I am not doing enough to get him back on the manners track. Jack will only let the person HE wants do things like buckle his car seat or turn on his Mickey Mouse show on TV. He wants who he wants, when he wants them. I realize that this is annoying, but sometimes I would rather pick my battles and avoid the tantrums and just do it his way. Not always, but sometimes. But, am I just reinforcing his moods? The assumption that he will grow out of that stuff dissuades me from getting all upset about it. But then I see the upset in others and wonder if my complacence is the problem after all.
It is hard to see the negatives in your own children. When some people are so clearly annoyed with what you kid is doing, and you see it as just a kid being a kid... who is wrong? I used to be a card carrying member of the "Kids Don't Belong in Public Unless They Sit Down and Shut Up" club, but now that I have the non-sitters and non-shutter uppers, I can see that I was wrong to be so judgemental and harsh. Or, when I let my little boy walk around our table as long as he stays out of the way... maybe I am wrong to be so lax and permissive? Maybe it is time that I get new glasses, and maybe this time I need to make sure they are clear... not rose colored. Then again, maybe my kids are OK, and the rest of the world could just sit back, take a deep breath and enjoy them for what they are... children.