Opinion: What I Learned From My 9 Year Old

My oldest son has always been a complex person. In so many ways, he reminds me of myself. That could be why on so many occasions we would butt heads. Since moving to South Dakota and having more time to spend with my family, I have noticed a change in my children, especially my oldest child.

My son is an analyzer and a sponge for everything around him. He usually acts as if he is not listening at all, but in reality, he listens to everything. I didn’t notice it at first, but the more I really sit and think about my child, I realize that he is just like me. Sure, he loves sports too much and I could do without the constant football playing in my living room. But, the truth is that we are very similar.

By watching how my son approaches life, it has made me take a deeper look at myself. Here is what I noticed:

Anger and Letting Go

My son gets easily angered when he feels like he or someone he loves is being wronged. Many times I have overreacted to things in my life due to stress. This is always apparent when I feel that I have been wronged or someone I love has been wronged. I don’t always notice it in the moment, but I reflect on it later when my mind is calm.

So, when my 9 year old yells at his sister for accidentally headbutting me, he is just trying to protect me, just like I would do for him. Before I started to really look at these situations, I would just yell at his natural reaction to those situations. Now, I calmly explain to him that he doesn’t have to get upset over the small things. Some great advice that I should really use myself.

I need to learn to let things go and not let them out in an angry way. My son is watching and I am not being the greatest role model it seems. So, in the way that I calmed down to show him what he should do in those situations, I should also remind myself when I overreact in stressful moments as well.

Taking Time to Enjoy Life

My son does not show signs of dealing with depression like I do, but I do see he has the ability to get stuck in ruts. Recently, he spent his Thanksgiving break on the loveseat watching tv and clips of the greatest football moments online. When encouraged for him to leave his spot that was becoming indented, he would get upset.

I am the same way. I get stuck in a mindset very easily. I let it control me and instead of changing what I do or how I react to situations, I just want to stay in my indent on the couch. Much like me, my son has to be almost forced out of that spot and do something different. We both fight it, but once we have engaged in something healthy for us we begin to let the spell of our own rut wear off. We feel better and grateful for the change.

Recently, I have been trying to rethink how I approach my son when it comes to these moments. With his love of sports, I have used his little-stuffed football help guide him away from bad ruts. Now the two of us spend time throwing the football and bonding. Last night, after hearing people toasting to more good things in their lives, we would say something we wanted more of in our lives each time we threw the ball. Surprisingly, my son did not mention material things. Of his own accord, he mentioned how he wanted more hugs, fun, and spending time together.

This really meant a lot to me. Especially since my son is the first one to demand new material objects to improve his life. All of which are expensive, I might add. I don’t give into these demands but the simple fact that he brings it up continually makes me feel as if he doesn’t value connections between people. I was wrong. All my son really wants is to be loved, held, and given positive attention. I hide behind my fake need for material items as well, but deep down all I want is to be loved, held, and given positive attention.

If I would just enjoy what I have, I wouldn’t feel the need to escape in material things. I must admit that I find much more joy in sharing moments with my family than it does to find a great deal on some item that I don’t fully need. It is amazing how I can learn all of that just by really seeing my son.

Compassion

The last thing that I have noticed about my son is that he has a deep sense of compassion that he likes to hide. On many occasions, I worried about his ability to show compassion to others. But now that I have time to fully observe him, I realize that he has always had compassion. He just gets clouded by the stress. Sounds like me for sure. I let the stress cloud my judgment in many situations as well.

My husband has been sick lately which has made him snore extremely loud at night. My son has been showing me compassion by letting me slip into bed with him at night to get relief from the loud snoring. The first night, I woke him up very late and asked if I could join him in bed. Without a second thought, he rolled over and invited me into his large bed. The next day, he gladly told me that if I needed a place to sleep that his bed is always open for me. That meant more to me than he could even comprehend at the age of 9.

I take away from this that I need to remember to be compassionate to those in need even if it means that I have to sacrifice a little. I may be tired from lack of sleep lately but when my husband comes home from a hard day, I need to show him compassion and not add to his stress.

My son has taught me so much about myself recently. If I just approach him the way that I need to be approached then I can see a totally different side of him. I used to just get frustrated and tired of dealing with his “drama”. Now, I know that other people must think that I am a lot of “drama” because I don’t take the time to look at how I am reacting to things. So, I am grateful for the ability to learn from my child. It can only make me a better person by seeing myself in him.

 

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