From the moment he was born, everyone remarked how much our oldest looks like my husband. I could always see a few traits from my side of the family, but if we were in a crowd, people would identify the two of them as belonging together before me.
When our second son came along, there was nothing familiar about him. The scant fuzz with a strawberry-blond tint came from nowhere (unless you want to count my step-dad or Hubs adopted sister!). The chubby-cheeks and bulky build, the widow's peak hairline...if I hadn't been there when he arrived and knew he'd never left the room, I would have insisted they brought me someone else's baby.
The older he gets and the more he expresses himself (and express himself he does!), the more I feel like I'm looking into a funhouse mirror that turned me into a little curly-haired, blue eyed boy with a temperament that is a reflection of all my worst traits. If it's true that the things that bother us most in others are the things we dislike most about ourselves, then I'm beginning to realize that maybe I haven't grown as much as I want to believe I have.
While he wakes up with a smile, it doesn't take long before the lips turn to a pout and the voice comes out a whine. After school, or the park, or a playdate, if we ask how things went, we're regaled with a litany of his friends' faults, perceived injustices, and otherwise simply unhappy occurrences.
I started to catch on to this after most of the school year passed, and decided to try a modified version of my husband's "What's good about it?" method of conversation modification. When greeted with a tale of woe at the hands of a classmate, I'd prod him to tell me something he likes about them.
The result is a lot like mine probably was at the beginning. "I can't think of anything." But just like I learned to start looking for something good to say in response to the question, "What's good about it?" I'm hoping that he'll begin to make it a point to remember the good things too.
And it's a reminder to me that the very best way I can help him be the positive, happy kid that I believe he's meant to be, is to model that behavior to him. To be quick to find the good in people and situations, and quicker to keep the converse to myself. I know I've grown in that, but I really need to keep working on it and demonstrating it.
And I need to encourage and praise him when he is happy and kind and generous more than I am exasperated with his whining and grumbling.
And someday, when someone says he's just like me, I hope we'll both take it as a compliment!