Last week I yelled at my daughter in front of my mom and let me tell you, you don't want to yell at your kids in front of your parents. My mom was never much of a yeller when we were growing up and now that she has grandchildren, she never yells at all. So, naturally, I look like an ogre anytime I yell at my kids in front of her (thank God I don't spank). Sometimes it seems like all I do is yell at my kids, so I'm making a conscious effort to not raise my voice anymore. I was even thinking of maybe putting a few small signs around the house that say, "No Yelling." I don't know if it would help but it seemed to work wonders when I put up a sign that said, "Don't put cigarettes out on their arms."
I suppose now you want to know what I was yelling at my daughter about. The girls were outside riding their bikes with my mom when I came home from playing golf. Samantha has gotten much better at riding her bike, even though she uses training wheels, which I'm against, but that's another story, and now I've forgotten where I was going with this sentence. Oh yeah, they were riding their bikes. Anyway Samantha gets to the driveway on the far side of the cul-de-sac and she wants my mom to hang on to the bike while she rides down the driveway (it's only a few feet and across the street). Now, this isn't really a big deal except that a few weeks ago Samantha learned how to do this all by herself. When Bobby's grandmother was visiting she worked with Samantha all day until Samantha had no fear of riding her bike down that little three foot stretch of driveway.
So, I told my mom not to help her and when Sam refuses to do it herself I told her we were done and picked up the bike. Much screaming ensued.
You learn a lot of things about yourself when you become a parent that maybe you didn't know before. You'll find that there are things that you were sure would drive you crazy that don't really bother you at all (for example, it doesn't bother me nearly as much as I thought it would that you can't walk two steps in our house without stepping on something). One of the things that I never really thought about and it now turns out to be something that bothers me is whenever my children act like they can't do something that I know perfectly well they can do. It just bothers me no end. If Samantha knows how to climb out of bed, and she's been climbing out of bed for weeks, and then suddenly starts acting like she can't do it anymore and she needs someone to do it for her, it annoys the crap out of me. Usually, I just flat refuse to help them with whatever it is they're trying to do. This can make me look like quite the shit to anyone who happens to witness it. For example, if any of the neighbors were to look out and see me refusing to push my daughter on the swing I'm sure they would think that I was a terrible dad. But the fact is, Samantha knows how to swing herself, she just doesn't want to swing herself. My general attitude tends to be, "I'll spend as much time as it takes to teach you how to do anything you want but I'm not going to do it for you until you finally decide you would like to do it for yourself."
I don't know, maybe I'm too harsh. Sometimes I think I am. I mean, Samantha's only four years old. Still, even at this age I want my children to get a sense that they can do anything that they want to. More importantly, I want them to truly believe they are capable of learning just about anything. I think that there are a lot more opportunities in this world for people who firmly believe that there is nothing they can't learn to do if they really want to. I'm not exactly an example of the most successful person in the world but I do believe that there is no job or task that I can't accomplish if I want. To me, it's just second nature to feel this way but there are a lot of people who will immediately shy away from anything that they don't already know how to do. I think these people miss a lot of opportunities in life and I don't want my daughters to be like that.
Still, she's only four.